By David Adeoye
Iseyin (Oyo State), Nov. 24, 2020 Thirty-six communities in Iseyin Local Government area of Oyo State, on Tuesday, made open declaration to abandon female genital mutilation (FGM) in their respective areas.
Naija247news reports that the 36 communities were from Molete, Oju Baba, Ilado and Iserin areas, all within Iseyin land.
Naija247news also reports that in attendance at the open declaration, held at Iseyin council secretariat, were the Council Secretary, Mr Lateef Olayiwola, representative of the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba AbdulGaniyu Adekunle and leaders of all the 36 communities.
The South-West FGM Consultant of UNICEF, Mrs Aderonke Olutayo and the state Director of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, were also present at the occasion.
In her goodwill message, Olutayo described the public declaration by all the 36 communities as a milestone, saying that it had clearly shown that they were in tune with the UNICEF position on FGM.
According to her, the event will rewrite history and mark a new chapter for the next generation of girls and women in the affected communities and create a new norm of keeping the girls the way they were created.
She further posited that the public declaration would, no doubt, inspire other communities to also make similar decision to away with the practice.
Olutayo said that UNICEF would embark on post-declaration surveillance to monitor compliance, adding that any community member that deviated from the declaration would be fished out through a community mechanism and brought to justice.
She described FGM as a harmful traditional practice and gross violation of the fundamental human rights of girls, stressing that it seriously compromised their health and psychological wellbeing.
“It is not only harmful, it is also against nature, as it destroys the wholesome and beautiful way women and girls were naturally created.
“FGM poses increased risk of infection, prolonged bleeding, prolonged labour, still-birth and maternal death during childbirth.
“It also leaves lasting physical and emotional scars, with an irreparable damage,” the UNICEF representative stated.
According to her, many people practise FGM because they believe that since others in their communities do it, they too must confirm to it.
“Most of the reasons sustaining the practice are based on myths and preconceptions, which, in turn, have shaped the social expectations among the people, thus resulting in the perpetuation of the harmful practice for generations,” she said.
Olutayo urged the state government to demonstrate political will by ensuring adequate budgetary allocation and release of funds through dedicated budget lines in the relevant ministries for campaign against FGM in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
In her remarks, the state NOA director, posited that efforts by the agency and that of UNICEF towards bringing the communities together for declaration had yielded results.
She said the occasion as the outcome of various engagements, dialogues and advocacy meetings with the critical segments on the immediate and long term health and psycho-social consequences of FGM on girls and women by various partners and civil society organisations.
Dosumu appreciated UNICEF for its confidence in NOA and the state technical committee to diligently implement the programmes and achieve the envisaged goal of attitudinal/behavioural change by the people of the communities and the state in general.
She assured UNICEF of NOA’s unwavering commitment to achieving total elimination of FGM practice in all the nooks and crannies of the state.
She also commended traditional and community leaders and other stakeholders in the communities for taking informed decision and backing it up with courageous action of publicly declaring to abandon the FGM practice in their respective communities.