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FG to scale up surveillance, advocacy on ending FGM– Tallen

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The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, has said there are efforts to scale-up surveillance system and advocacy toward ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice in the country.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the minister made this known at a joint ministerial press briefing to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation in Abuja, yesterday.

The day is marked globally every February 6 to create awareness on the harmful practice and efforts toward eradicating it across the world. This year’s theme is, ‘No Time for Global Inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to End Female Genital Mutilation.’

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FGM involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, a practice that has no health benefits for girls and women, declared as violation of the right of the female gender.

The minister, therefore, said the ministry, with support from partners, made remarkable progress in the crusade to eradicate it and other harmful practices in the country.

She cited the establishment of a surveillance system and mobilisation of FGM champions to deliver door-to-door household discussions with community groups in Oyo and Osun states in the year, adding: “We hope to scale up this coverage.”

Tallen said that the Child Rights Act and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, which had been domesticated in some states of the federation, would ensure that offenders are dealt with according to the law to serve as deterrent to others, saying: “For those who are not aware, Nigeria has in place, mechanisms to prosecute such offences.”

She, therefore, stressed the need to eliminate the practice to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth.

The Country Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ms. Ulla Mueller, said Nigeria represented 10 per cent of the 200 million girls and women that had experienced FGM, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the progress made toward achieving the SDGs goal five- gender equality and eliminating violence against women and girls.

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She stressed the need to empower women, work closely with men and boys, traditional and religious leaders, NGOs, CSOs, judiciary, law enforcement officers, the media and others to eliminate FGM practice.

National President, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Ms. Rhoda Tyoden, said, “anyone who performed or engaged another to carry out FGM committed an offence punishable by four years imprisonment or a fine of N200, 000 or both.”

She called for increased sensitisation to end the practice, which she described as “discriminatory and degrading, as it violated human rights of a person.”

National President of National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Dr. Laraba Shoda, reiterated the commitment of the Council toward sensitising women and communities on the ills of FGM.

Founder, Women Against Violence and Exploitation (WAVE) Foundation, Lola Ibrahim, stressed the need to prosecute those who practice FGM to serve as deterrent to others.

Ibrahim, who is also a third generation survivor of FGM, said providing alternative source of income for local FGM practitioners would discourage the practice in the country.

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