A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), mounts a campaign for the elimination of the harmful practice of Female Genital Mutilation, writes ROTIMI AGBOLUAJE,
in Ibadan.
No fewer than 20 million Nigerian girls have un­dergone genital mutila­tion, according to a fig­ure released by the World Health Organization (WHO), which also puts the global figure at 200 million.
Female Genital Mutila­tion (FGM), is an age-long practice that has resisted all attempts at eradicating it despite its health impli­cations.
According to WHO, FGM includes all proce­dures involving the par­tial or total removal of the external female genitalia (the reproductive part of the female body between the legs), for cultural and non-medical reasons.”
Many girls are said to have died in the course of carrying out FGM on them, while some others who survived the exer­cise, are said to be at the risk of not having sexual fulfillment later in life – a situation which may likely lead to broken homes.
Interestingly, a Non-Governmental Organiza­tion (NGO), the One-life Initiative for Human De­velopment (OIHD), has mounted a campaign to mobilize support for the elimination of FGM.
At a programme in Ibadan, the Oyo state cap­ital, tagged “End Female Genital Mutilation Poster Art Competition Award Ceremony,” the NGO called on governments at various levels to put an end to female genital mu­tilation.
Mr. Sola Fagorusi, pro­grammes/media manager, OIHD, said the campaign was aimed at reducing the level of FGM in Nigeria; expressing optimism that the next generation of mothers won’t indulge in the practice..
Faulting the insinuation that if a female child is not mutilated, she would be promiscuous, Fagoru­si said: “promiscuity has nothing to do with mu­tilation,’ adding that “we are talking about charac­ter and value system.”
According to him, “If parents bring up their children properly, then we won’t be talking about clitoris or any part of the body being responsible for indulging in female genital mutilation.”
He also faulted the claim by some people that both the Bible and Qur’an approved FGM, hence the practice, and advised cler­ics, pastors and imams, to inform members of their congregation that no part of the two Holy Books provide for the mutilation of female genitals.
And on the claim that the practice is cultural, Fagorusi said: “Culture is dynamic and changes with civilization. This is not to discountenance the quality and importance of culture, but we are saying that in this particular in­stance, culture does not stand especially when there is no medical verifi­cation.”
FGM was declared il­legal in Nigeria in May 2015, during the admin­istration of former Presi­dent Goodluck Jona­than, vide “The Violence Against Persons Prohibi­tion Act,2015.”
The Act provides that: “a person who carries out harmful traditional prac­tices on another com­mits an offence, and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding four years or to a fine not exceeding N500,000 or both.”
Fagorusi reminded parents and members of the public that laws such as the Child Rights Act  2006 in Oyo State, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act,2015, and Violence Against Women Prohibition Law Oyo State 2016 which all frown at the practice.
“We are saying despite all the laws people still an­tagonize you when you go for advocacy in places like Kajola, Oyo, Ogbomoso and others”, he stated.
Consequently, he called on governments at all levels, including the Na­tional Orientation Agen­cy *NOA) to bring to an end the mutilation of fe­male genitals.
His words: “Nation­al Orientation Agency (NOA) as part of its man­date should look into harmful traditional prac­tices such as female geni­tal mutilation and early child marriage and en­lighten the people.
“In addition, govern­ment needs to use the media by sponsoring pro­grammes and comple­menting what NGOs are doing.”
Speaking from the le­gal perspective, Barris­ter Ronke Ige, of Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) de­scribed the practice as a family crime. She said the practice runs foul of Cap 1V Section 34(1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution(as amended) which talks about dignity of human beings
She called on the Na­tional Agency for the Prohibition of Traffick­ing in Persons and other Related Matters (NAP­TIPP), which is mandated to administer the provi­sions of the Act, to col­laborate with the relevant stakeholders including faith-based organiza­tions (NGOs), in the fight against FGM.
Another coordinator of an NGO, Value Re-ori­entation and Community Enhancement, Oshogbo Osun state, Ademola Adebisi, said the practice is common in Yoruba, with 55 per cent in the region; 45 per cent in the South-East and South-South, while the act has low pa­tronage in the North.
“It is the responsibility of everybody in the society to end female genital mu­tilation. Male should take it upon themselves and ladies should raise their voices.”
Are the ladies willing to do so? Only time will tell.