The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged law enforcers in Nigeria to prosecute perpetrators of female genital mutilation against children in accordance with the laws prohibiting the practice to serve as deterrence to others so as to end the practice.
This was the thrust of a three-day training for law enforcement agents, judicial officers, and relevant government agencies drawn from Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states on enforcement of legal framework for the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), held in Akure, Ondo State.
The training was organized by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information in collaboration with UNICEF to strengthen the knowledge of law enforcement agents, judicial officers, End-FGM desk officers, and other government officials on implementation and enforcement of Anti-FGM laws.
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mrs. Nkiru Maduechesi said FGM is one of the worst human rights violations and that perpetrators should be arrested and prosecuted according to the law.
Maduechesi said with the intervention of UNICEF in the five states with a high prevalence of FGM practice, 953 communities have denounced the practice and publicly declared FGM abandonment. The five states include Ekiti, Imo, Osun, Oyo, Imo, and Ebonyi in South West and South East.
She noted that the rate of FGM practice in the five states reduced drastically between 2013 and 2018 according to Nigeria’s Demographic and Health Survey.
Maduechesi urged law enforcers to take laws that prohibited FGM practice very seriously and bring FGM perpetrators to justice in order to eliminate the practice.
UNICEF Senior Programme Associate for Child Protection Section and Focal Point for the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) programme, Mrs. Phydelia Abbas said more still needs to be done to ensure total eradication of FGM practice in Nigeria.
Quoting the NDHS data, Abbas said the FGM prevalence rate of 72% in 2013 in Ekiti state reduced to 57.9% in 2018. She added that the prevalence rate of 78% in Osun state in 2013 reduced to 45.9% in 2018 and that Oyo state moved down from 66% in 2013 to 31.1 % as of 2018.
She said the prevalence rate in Imo state as of 2013 was 68 % and that it reduced to 61.7 % in 2018 while Ebonyi’s 74% prevalence came down to 53.2% as of 2018.
Abbas said efforts to end FGM would not stop until the practice becomes a thing of the past and no child is cut again.