Mr Victus Ekeocha, The NOA Director in Imo, made the pledge in Izombe, Oguta, on Wednesday at a one-day “Advocay Dialogue with Religious Leaders for FGM Abandonement in Oguta Local Government area of Imo.”
Ekocha said that UNICEF, through the World Health Organistaion (WHO), had discovered that female circumscision was not beneficial to the girl child, but rather was fraught with many disadvantages.
He said the sensitization programme was aimed at seeking collaboration of religious leaders in the fight to curb FGM.
He said the religious leaders had the respect and acceptance of thier church people as such their preachings on the harmful effect of FGM would go along way in depeening the awareness.
The NOA official said that NOA, in collaboration with UNICEF, had since 2015 been creating awareness on the dangers of FGM and the need to abandon the practice by people in variuos communities of the state.
Ekeocha said efforts were being made to ensue that communities in the state abandon “such harmful cultural practices”, adding that awareness was being created in the nine local government areas of Imo since 2015 to stop the FGM practice.
The UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Mr Victor Atuchukwu, also said that research hasd shown that FGM had no benefit to the girl-child and women and could not make a female child promiscous as was erronously believed.
He commended the religioius leaders for coming out enmasse to attend the programme, which he said, would go along way in making the people of Oguta have more understanding of the ills associated with FGM.
Mr Ben Mbakwem , UNICEF FGM Consultant in Imo and Ebonyi states, said that the sensitisation and advocay programme was to accelerate efforts toward reduction of FGM, thus fulfilling the rights of girls and women.
He said it was also to realise the goals on Social and Gender Norms Transformation by 2021 and the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.
Mbakwem identified the complications of FGM to include intensive pain, excessive bleeding, uninary incontinence, difficulties during menseruation and delivery.
Earlier, Dr (Mrs) Oby Azubuike, the Director, Ministry of Gender Affairs in the state, said the main objective of the programme was to provide an opportunity for religious leaders to dailogue about FGM and its harmful effects on girls and women in their congregation.
She said it was equally to strengthen the capacity of religious leaders to enable them take on effective role in the campaign to eliminate FGM and to demystify the misperception and misinterpretation that the practice of FGM is a religious requirement.
Azubuike said the programme was also meant to sensitise church members that FGM is not a religious requirement as well as enable them reach a concensus to denounce the practice.
The religious leaders, who attended the programme, promised to partner the National NOA and UNICEF to end the FGM in the state.
Apostle David Dibua, the Chairman of Oguta Chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), who spoke onbehalf of the clerics, described the sensitisation as a welcome development and worthwhile.
He said religious leaders had come to the understanding that FGM is harmful to the girl child, adding that the Bible never recommended its practice.
“God in his wisdom did not include women in his commandments on male circumscision so I wonder why the tradition has involved women,” he said.
Dibua promised, on behalf of the traditional rulers, to sensitise church members through the different groups and arms of the church as the practise had led to divorce and problems in most homes.
NAN reports that religious leaders from different denominations including the Catholics, Anglicans and Penticoastals attended the meeting.
Edited by Tajudeen Atitebi