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Rise in genital mutilation cases likely over ravaging COVID-19, says UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that Nigeria will record a surge in the prevalence of cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conte, disclosed in Enugu, yesterday, during a media briefing, said that two million cases of FGM would likely occur within the next 10 years worldwide due to COVID-19.

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He said that Nigeria was not spared as it had continued to record alarming COVID-19 cases.

He, therefore, advocated a united, concerted and well-funded action to end the practice, which he described, as a human rights violation.

The UNICEF chief said that FGM was widespread in Nigeria with a national prevalence of 19.5 per cent among women aged 15 to 49 and 19.2 per cent among girls aged 0 to 14.

He said that the statistics were according to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018.

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“This translates into a population of women and girls that have been cut, especially in Nigeria’s high prevalent states,” he said.

Conte, however, said that it was gratifying that the combined efforts of UNICEF and other organisations had remained effective in spurring commitments of stakeholders to stem the tide.

He said that it was sad that Imo and Ebonyi states with FGM prevalence of 61.7 per cent and 53.2 per cent respectively were the two states in the South-East with the highest prevalence.

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The UNICEF chief said that it was the responsibility of Fund to bring such issues and the need to curb them to the notice of the government, community gate-keepers and other stakeholders, adding that the intervention of the body to that regard led to the enactment of legal frameworks in the two South-East states which had lowered the figures.

He said that prior to the enforcement of the legal framework to stop FGM in Imo in 2017, the state, which ranked first in the South-East region, had 68 per cent prevalence rate that dropped to 62 per cent after the 2018 survey.

Conte also said that prior to the coming into force of the FGM legal framework in Ebonyi in 2018, the state had 74 per cent prevalence rate, which dropped to 53 per cent after the 2018 survey.

“FGM remains a gender-based violence, hence the need for a united front, funding and action to end this horrific violence against our women and children,” Conte said.

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