UNICEF has implored world leaders to save $1.4bn by abolishing the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
UNICEF’s child protection specialist, Enugu Field Office, Victor Atuchukwu, stated this at a media dialogue organised by the UNICEF in collaboration with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA).
Atuchukwu who called out stakeholders for spending the sum on treatment of FGM-induced cases said the money could better be utilised when channeled to critical economic areas especially as economies continue to dwindle.
He decried the spate of FGM in the South East, just as he urged state governments to key into UNICEF’s intervention strategies such as establishment of community-based child protection facilities and consensus building towards FGM abandonment.
He said: “It is worthy of note that all South-East states have domesticated the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act hence the need to build consensus, establish grassroots technical committees with a view to ending FGM.”
Speaking on the theme, ‘Accelerating Investment to end FGM in Nigeria’, the officer in charge of UNICEF’s Enugu Field Office, Mrs Maureen Zubie-Okolo, said there remained no proven health benefits of the practice.
Zubie-Okolo who was represented by Atuchukwu, said over four million girls were at risk of genital mutilation even as COVID-19 disruptions could add two million cases of FGM by year 2030.
“Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide with an estimated 19.9 million survivors and state prevalence ranging from 62 per cent in Imo to less than one per cent in Adamawa and Gombe.
“The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South-East (35 per cent) and South-West (30 per cent), a situation which prompted UNICEF to initiate a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in highly prevalent states of Imo, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Osun and Oyo.
“We need to accelerate efforts especially with families and communities to achieve a safe Nigeria for girls and women who are robbed of their childhoods, health and aspirations by harmful practices such as FGM”.
The director-general of BCA, Anyaso Anyaso, called for collective investment of human and other resources in the fight against FGM to enable the female folk fully utilise their potentials to socio-economic development of society.
Anyaso who was represented by Okezie Nkpa, a senior staff member of BCA, said an end to FGM would mean an end to its “severe health and psychological consequences”.
In her comments, UNICEF’s communication officer, Enugu Field Office, Dr. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, charged journalists to embark on social investments and aggressive sensitization by developing action plans capable of motivating communities against the practice of FGM.
Dr Onuoha-Ogwe also emphasised the need for accelerated media awareness on FGM as a way of increasing impact of public sensitisation on FGM