Ekeocha said that so far, the team had achieved 100 per cent compliance in Ngor-Okpala LGA with the traditional rulers and other stakeholders unanimously agreeing to abandon the practice.
He said advocacy meeting with over 100 traditional rulers in Oguta and Ikeduru LGAs was to further sensitise the leaders to the need for them to unanimously abandon FGM in their communities as witnessed in Ngor-Okpala.
He said that the agency, in collaboration with partner agencies, had held series of advocacy meetings, trainings and established technical committees since 2017 in the LGAs all geared against FGM.
“FGM is harmful and against the right of a girl-child biologically and health-wise.
“The female genital plays a very important role which is destroyed when it is cut. We came to get a consensus from the traditional rulers; we want to have their agreement and how they intend to abandon the practice.
“The Imo state FGM (Prohibition) Law 2017 encourages Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender Affairs, Ministry of Information and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to educate people about the harmful effects of FGM and what the law stipulates for offenders’’, he said.
He defined FGM as all “procedures that involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia of the woman or girl-child with consequences such as pain, loss of blood leading to anemia, difficulty in child delivery, infection (HIV, Hepatitis) and keloid formation’’.
Mbakwem, however, said the prevalent rate of FGM practice in Nigeria and Imo in particular had reduced due to the awareness creation by NOA in the various communities regarding the inherent dangers since 2015.
Earlier, Dr Oby Azubuike of the Ministry of Gender Affairs, Imo State, said the meeting was to provide a space for traditional rulers to agree to abandon the practice and sensitise their communities toward the same goal.
She said it was also to ascertain the communities’ readiness for public declaration to end FGM and to discourage and convince those that might want to continue with the practice.
Responding, the traditional rulers commended NOA and UNICEF for the awareness creation on the dangers of FGM.
They said that it was their duty as traditional rulers and as custodians of culture to legislate on and discourage FGM.
His Royal Highness, Eze Fatai Emetumah, Offor the 9th of Umuofor Ancient Kingdom in Oguta LGA, described FGM as an archaic practice that should be prohibited because of the negative tendencies associated with it.
He said both Quran and Bible never recommended circumcision for female child and promised to engage in serious sensitisation to his subjects on the dangers of female circumcision and to report any offender to the appropriate quarters.
The traditional ruler of Obudu Agwa Autonomous Community asked for more advocacy visits against FGM, especially during the Women August Meeting in various communities in the state.
He thanked UNICEF and NOA for their efforts so far in reducing the prevalent rate of the practice in the main vocal areas.
Also His Royal Highness, Eze Emmanuel Nwaigwe, the traditional ruler of Uguri Autonomous Community in Ikeduru LGA, said that traditional rulers had come to the understanding that FGM was bad and had resolved to enforce its end.
He said that it was the responsibility of the traditional rulers to discourage the practice and legislate on it.
NAN reports that over 150 traditional rulers and their cabinet chiefs attended the programmes in the two LGAs.
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