The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Thursday said that the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) has decreased in Imo, Ebonyi and Oyo States.
The Head of Office, UNFPA Sub-Office, Calabar, Mr Kenneth Ehouzou, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar.
Ehouzou said the considerable progress in the fight against female genital mutilation in women between the ages of 15 and 49 from 2011 to 2017 in the states they were working showed that the prevalence decreased from 34 to 22 per cent in Imo, 32.9 to 29.6 per cent in Oyo and from 6.4 to 5.2 per cent in Ebonyi.
He said the decrease was due to intensive advocacy, follow up and constant information in the media by different organisations.
He said the greatest achievement of UNFPA was the passage of Nigeria’s comprehensive Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAP) act which had been domesticated in 14 states, while advocating for its domestication in the remaining states.
“We have experienced considerable progress in the fight against female genital mutilation, there is a decrease in its prevalence in the states where we are working.
“We have to be very grateful to our champions like the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, governors, wives of governors and other high level personalities, who have openly declared their positions against female genital mutilation,” he said.
According to the UNFPA boss, though, progress were being made in the fight to eliminate female genital mutilation, the major challenges Agency is facing was reaching more political actors and creating more awareness on its prevalence.
He also noted that the problem of accessibility was a big challenge as most of the communities that still practice female genital mutilation were in very remote and hard to reach areas nationwide.
“We know that female genital mutilation is culture related and is passed down from generation to generation, but illiteracy and lack of information is what fuels it because once the women understand that it has no health benefit but complications, their perceptions start to change.
“What the UN joint programme did in Nigeria was to train about 120 Nigerian service providers in the management of female genital mutilation complications and these Nigerians have treated about 125, 000 women nationwide.
“They have also been able to talk to more than 20, 000 pregnant and nursing mothers about avoiding female genital mutilation there by saving over 1,500 babies who are constantly checked as they are brought by their mothers for vaccines in Osun alone.
“Additionally, we worked with the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure female genital mutilation prevention and post female genital mutilation services is added to the curriculum of nurses and midwives in training.
” We are taking a multi sectoral approach to enable us achieve our goal of total elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.
” Nigeria is not alone in this campaign to eliminate female genital mutilation by 2030, we have world leaders who believe it is achievable and has backed up the campaigns.
“However, in the community levels, people must be made to understand that female genital mutilation has no religious or medical backups and create platforms to discuss it,” he said.
Female genital mutilation is the cutting of part of the female genitalia through medical or traditional methods using knives, blades or surgical items and over 20 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the joint programme for the elimination of female genital mutilation in Nigeria was in its second phase, the programme started in 2011 in Nigeria and will run till 2030.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is commemorated annually on Feb. 6. (NAN)