The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says there is need for stakeholders collaboration to stem the rise in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) cases in Oyo State.
The Chief Child Protection, UNICEF, Mr Ibrahim Sesay, made this known on Friday in Ibadan at a state level engagement with traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders.
The event was in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, UNICEF and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Sesay said 32 per cent of children from zero to 14 years experience genital mutilation, comparing with the national average, which he put at 31 per cent, noting that Oyo State condition deserved attention.
“We see that Oyo State is one of the critical locations, we really need to focus on, if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal by ensuring that we don’t have any harm or violence against women’s and girls in the state.
“The trends are no longer going down. We have seen an upward surge, especially among children that are below one when there are festivities.
“At time like this, is when we need to galvanise the support of traditional rulers, women’s organisations, religious leaders to see that we stop the cutting,” Sesay said.
He said the event was to reach every household to see how there could be a change to the harmful tradition.
According to him, this is to eliminate female genital mutilation, due to the harmful health effects it has on girls and women.
Also, the UNICEF FGM Consultant, South-West, Mrs Aderonke Olutayo, said that in spite of the domestication of laws prohibiting the practice, there has been no enforcement, nor prosecution of any offender.
Olutayo said that in the state sharp objects of any type, including broken bottles were being used to cut the female genital, removing up to three to five skin level from the female genital.
“The prevalence of FGM in Oyo State as at 2018, has reduced to 31.1 per cent from 66.1 per cent in 2013, which is still very large, but we want to bring it down to zero level.
“The bottleneck is that, we are not able to work in all the local government areas in Oyo State, because they are 33 and we are only working in eight local government areas.
“We brought all the stakeholders in all the local government areas together to ensure that they all denounce FGM in one voice and take the awareness to their various communities and localities,” she said.
Olutayo said that the agency would put up a programme to target Iseyin Local Government area from Sept.12 to Sept.14 to campaign against the traditional festival in Iseyin, where female children were rounded up for circumcision.
She said that the law enforcement agencies had been trained to start enforcing laws against FGM, urging those still practicing the tradition to desist from it.
In their various goodwill messages, the Executive Secretary, Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Muideen Olatunji; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Chietaincy Affairs, Mr Bashir Olanrewaju, said the state would do all it could to ensure the practice was reduced to zero.
Olatunji said: “There has been series of activities, engagement, information dissemination, health, education and awareness creation with the communities asking them to denounce to be able to stop FGM.
“This has been yielding results as at 2018, the prevalence has come down to 31 per cent. So, the correction of the harmful practice is working, very soon it will be a thing of the past.
“The same way we achieved the milestone of five years reduction is how we will get it to zero level.
“It is not just about the law and punishment, but the conviction from the people to desist from the act.”
Commenting, a traditional female circumcision worker, Mr Adulmumini Adebayo, said Oyo Town has zero female genital mutilation as the association in charge of the practice had supported the fight against the harmful tradition.