The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF said on Friday that about 4.16 million girls and women are at the risk of Genital mutilation even as 2 million cases of Female Genital mutilation would be recorded by 2030 as a result of COVID 19 disruptions globally.
The Officer in Charge, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, Mrs. Maureen Zubie Okolo made the disclosure during a One Day Zonal Media Dialogue in collaboration with Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State, BCA Umuahia.
The theme of the One Day Zonal Dialogue is Accelerated Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation.
Mrs. Okolo said that in Nigeria, Female Genital mutilation occurs mostly during infancy adding that an estimated 86 percent of females were cut before the age of 5, while 8 percent were cut between ages of 5 and 14.
The UNICEF specialist said that FGM has remained widespread in Nigeria with an estimated 19.9 million survivors adding that Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide.
She stated that while the National prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018, prevalence among girls aged 0-14 increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same period.
“Millions of girls are being robbed of their childhoods, health, education and aspirations everyday by harmful practices such as FGM and child early and forced marriage”.
“The practice of FGM not only has no health benefits. It is deeply harmful to girls and women, both physically and psychologically. It is a practice that has no place in our society today and must be ended, as many Nigerian communities have already pledged to do”.
She said that UNICEF is initiating a community led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigeria States of Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo where it is highly prevalent adding that nearly 3 million girls and women would have undergone FGM in the states in the last five years.
Mrs. Okolo noted that FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. “It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and is an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women”.
In an address, the Director General, Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State BCA, Sir Anyaso Anyaso said that FGM comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
He expressed the regret that girls who undergo FGM face short term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections and difficult in passing urine as well as long term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.
Sir Anyaso stated that to promote the elimination of FGM, coordinated and systematic efforts are needed and they must engage whole communities and focus on human rights.