The fight against the menace of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a battle of no retreat, no surrender as BAYO AGBOOLA reports.
There is no doubt in the fact that the war against Female Genital Mutilation, (FGM) is on a daily basis growing stronger courtesy of the Hacey Health Initiative as clearly demonstrated in a one-day training of journalists on FGM together with other stakeholders recently at Ibadan Business School tagged: ‘Stopcut Media Dialogue’. It was on the need to wipe out the menace from the society.
According to the Hacey Health Initiative Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Mr Emmanuel Oni, there is the urgent need for all and sundry, particularly the stakeholders, to join hands and get the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) totally wiped out before it destroys the economy as it is mostly a threat to the female in particular and the society at large. Going by the latest findings, over 200 million girls were mutilated globally with Nigeria alone having 10% of the 200 million girls .
Obvious adverse effects
Female Genital Mutilation as at present has become a threat to national development particularly in Nigeria considering its negative impacts on girls/women who are major stakeholders in sustaining the economy of the nation as FGM through the negative impacts on the women cripples the economy. As a way of ridding the society of the menace, Hacey Health Initiative has embarked on series of activities particularly advocacy visits to enlighten and as well educate various communities and its people on the need to abandon the old- fashioned practice of cutting the female sex organ with its special focus on Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states as at the present.
Mr Oni stressed that the ‘Stopcut Media Dialogue’ is among other things aims to appraise activities of the Hacey Health Initiative between January 2020 – December 2022 and build on it in the coming years particularly in its present areas of operations on Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states.
He said the efforts which started in 2020 is billed to end after two years; therefore called for an assessment of the impact and efforts made so far in the designated states.
Results so far
Within the period, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer stressed that Hacey Health Initiative trained over 2, 000 stakeholders on the need to put stop to FGM, established FGM Alliance, sensitised 12,000 boys and girls between 9 – 19 years of age as well as holding learning and sharing experiences workshop for 152 FGM Alliance members and the training of policemen across 19 police stations across its states of operations.
Other activities within the same period according to the Hacey Health Initiative Programme Officer included signing of treaties with 1,230 people to abandon FGM, signing of treaties with 55 traditional leaders, with 1500 community members, with 1,920 families, with 155 policy makers as well as signing of pledge with 65 traditional leaders and reaching over 1 million people towards ending the scourge.
More needs to be done
He stressed that although efforts and engagements of all stakeholders in the last two years have gone far in helping to reduce the spread in Oyo state, Mr Oni however pointed out that more still need to be done on why the message should still be spread further into the interior saying, “One of the objectives of the training is to help other stakeholders see how they can collaborate with the media and practitioners in the wider spread of anti-FGM messages”
“Every year up to three million girls are at the risk of being mutilated globally. In Nigeria, the prevalence of FGM/s is estimated at 15.1 percent among women and is 8.2 percent in girls. FGM is a criminal offence, hence there is need for us to engage the media so that they can help in spreading the message to the people in order to stop the cut because its liable to both jail term and fine. The practice of FGM poses threat to the survival, development and productivity of women and girls.Treatment of complications cost $1.4billion USD per year globally and is projected to rise to $2.3billion USD by the year 2047 if no action is taken.”
Emphasizing that with proper education and stoppage of the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) menace, such a huge fund could be diverted to better use in human and infrastructural development; hence the need for public knowledge about FGM and the need for its abandonment. Speaking further he said, “Providing education on laws and policies that project women and girls from FGM advocacy for effective implementation of FGM laws and policies at all levels is our primary purpose. “
More stakeholders speak
The Oyo state chairperson of National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Comrade Jadesola Ajibola in her contribution disclosed that Oyo NAWOJ has partnered with Hacey Health Initiative on the project in a bid to boost the crusade against Female Genital Mutilation as well as to save more women and girls from the harmful practice and its negative impacts on the society as a whole. She added that media practitioners, security operatives, Hacey Health Initiative and other stakeholders need to be commended for the roles they played in the last two years towards curtailing the spread of FGM menace and that Oyo NAWOJ and the media in general would not give up on the fight until the practice becomes a thing of the past.
In their separate remarks, the Police Officer in charge of FGM, OC Funke Ayenigbara; a former chairperson of Oyo FIDA and representative of the commissioner for justice, Barrister Debora Collins; representative of the Iyalode and the market women society in the state, Dr. Ayo Alaga, Oyo State coordinator/chairperson State Steering Committee on Female Genital Mutilation, Mrs. Balikis Olawoyin, NSCDC officer in charge of rape and FGM related cases, Mr. Afe Olurotimi tasked media practitioners to take ‘End FGM’ messages to the nooks and crannies of both urban and the rural areas, stressing that, with proper education through the media, FGM menace would be drastically reduced and curbed.
According to them, the time has come for members of the public to help support the fight against FGM through whistleblowing saying the inability and unwillingness of many victim to seek justice and redress legally has limited the level of successes that could have been achieved.
Going by the discussion and deep revelations on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, there is no doubt in the fact that there is no other time to end FGM in our society than now as the achaic practice brings no good thing to the society but evil as it threatens the growth and development both the humans especially the girls and women, just as it endangers their future and that of the entire society