Ebonyi Community, StakeHolders Affirm Zero Tolerance To FGM

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“threatens to banish anybody indulging in it


By; MKPUMA ENYINNA, Abakaliki

In an effort to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Ebonyi State, stakeholders and people of Onicha Local Government Area of the state  have affirmed to end female genital mutilation because of its health implications, warning that anybody caught in the act will be banished from the village because it is highly prohibited.

Speaking with some of the villagers in Onicha Igboeze, Mrs. Ifeoma Anoke stated that there has been sensitization on the health implications of female genital mutilation and the stakeholders on their own have taken a bold decision to  stop FGM, saying that as part of the measures to checkmate it, anyone caught in the act will be banished from the village and shall be handed over to security agencies to face the full wrath of the law.
Mrs. Anoke also explained that they  use town crier to gather the people together for sensitization about female genital mutilation, noting that victims  are vulnerable to diseases such as Vesico Vagina Fistula (VVF), poor libido for sex and other diseases, adding that the practice is highly prohibited in Onicha LGA.
“We have been doing our best to end FGM in Onicha LGA. We have embarked on sensitization to let the villagers know the implication of indulging in FGM and its hazards and anyone caught in the act will be disowned and excommunicated  by the village and will be handed over to government to face the full wait of the law.
“Some are still doing it while some have stopped, but the number is very low when compared to what we had before now. Right from the inception, the wife of the governor has been waging war against this obnoxious practices.
“In the area of sensitization, we have passed the information to the village heads  in order to step it down to the people. From time to time, we  use town criers to assemble the villagers to sensitize about the harmful effects of female genital mutilation.
“The sensitization has moved to so many communities but it has not moved round all the communities.
“Female genital mutilation has drastically reduced in Onicha Local Government Area because of the level of sensitization.The practice is very bad and people who practice it are prone to infection.
“Anybody who still practices it, should stop it immediately because of its medical consequences. Victims of female genital mutilation don’t have sexual urge because that libido is no longer there, it has been tampered with, and the person is vulnerable to STDs. People should stop it, it is very bad.
Also speaking, Mrs. Uzor Okereke explained that their people do practice female genital mutilation in the past but because of the intervention of Government and the level of sensitization against the practices and its health implications, it has been reduced drastically.
“Some years back,people are not aware, but Today there are a lot of changes because the have told us several times that female genital mutilation is very bad and the punishment attached to it if you are caught in the act.
Unfortunately, while interviewing  Chief Okoronkwo Ngwu, President General Onicha Ignoeze Autonomous Community, he said he doesn’t know anything about female genital mutilation as nobody has ever called his attention to it.
“I am not aware of any activities about Female Genital Mutilation in Onicha.I am not aware and nobody told me about it.Nobody told me about.Infact, I don’t know.”
On his part, the Town Union President of Ukawu Autonomous Community, Dr. Ikele Francis said as a town union leader, there  has been several training and sensitization about it among the stakeholders and the people both at state and local government level noting that the National Orientation Agency and Ministry of Women Affairs has been organizing training to stop the manage.
Dr. Ikele further stated that in the past, people who indulge in it do have prolonged labor during child bearing which usually lead to VVF saying that it has been reduced to the barest minimum and seen as a taboo to be involved in such practices in Ukawu autonomous community adding that proactive measures has been taken to stop it entirely.
“We have been trying our best even in most of our meetings, stakeholders meetings and even in our traditional cabinet meetings.
“As the town union leader, right from the time we had training.We had series of training both at the state and local government level.
“We have been briefed by National Orientation Agency who has been undertaken some training on that issue.We have also been briefed about it by Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“On that ground, we have been following it and also tell our people to avoid it. We try to let them know the consequences of female genital mutilation.Some of them that involved in such practices in the past are today suffering from VVF as a result of prolonged Labor due to healing of the circumsized areas and delay in the process of delivery. Which has resulted in some people developing fistula that will make them to be passing urine in their clothes which leads to stigmatization.
“Some of them by virtue of the office of her excellency, has benefited from repair.
“I will tell you that presently, female genital mutilation has reduced very significantly.I can’t remember in the recent past any record of mutilation in my community recently.
“Female genital mutilation is being seen as a taboo as nobody does such now.
“I wouldn’t say that there is Zero tolerance, but there is no record presently, that does not mean that there won’t be one or two cases.The issue that has to do with statistics is that,you can`t do when there is no record. For now, we don’t have such records.The level of compliance among the people is commendable because now,you hardly here such but before, it use to be celebrated in play ground and markets in traditional way, showing that the are circumcised but now,you can’t see such a thing again.
“I believe that the training that has been going on has gone a long way to help our people.I have really come to realize that there is no gain in female genital mutilation.
Speaking with Ebonyi State Child Protection Focal Person on the sensitization activities carried out by National Orientation Agency in Onicha LGA to end Female Genital Mutation, he outlined the following as their activities so far in a bid to stop FGM:
1- Advocacy dialogue with traditional rulers on FGM abandonment.
2- Advocacy dialogue with religious leaders on FGM abandonment.
3- FGM community forum on FGM abandonment.
4- Training and inauguration of coalition of men known as “Male engage alliance to end FGM.
5- One day consensus building/public declaration preparatory meeting with traditional rulers, town union chairmen, women and youth leaders,adolescent girls and religious leaders.
6- Sensitization in school and churches by END of FGM community champions.
7- Training and establishment of community surveillance team to monitor compliance to the community public declaration of FGM abandonment amongst others.
Mr. Unah noted that a lot has been done in Onicha to end FGM and the are all yielding positive fruits as there is total reduction in the practices and the community leaders have all accepted to stop FGM and are also working to ensure that it is totally eradicated.
Responding, the chairman of Onicha local government area of Ebonyi State, Hon. Felix Igboke explained that the stakeholders of the area has accepted long ago to stop the obnoxious practice saying with the instrumentality of governors wife, the sensitization was inaugurated in all the communities involving the traditional rulers,village heads, religious leaders among others to put a stop to the practice adding that there is a law prohibiting that at the state level.
He therefore, advised the people to heed to medical devices knowing fully well the consequences of female genital mutilation.
“The stakeholders of Onicha local government area have accepted to end Female Genital Mutilation long ago because the office of the wife of the governor took it upon themselves and it was inaugurated in all the local government.
“The local government stakeholders came together both traditional rulers, town union President, village heads and religious leaders all came together agreed to end FGM and also to take it down to grassroots to be canvased in churches,village meetings and markets.
“So, it is a collective effort.Infact, there is a law prohibiting that, it is no longer happening in Onicha because the people are against any form of mutilation.
“The level of sensitization in Onicha is very high.It started last two years.We started very early because we know the implication.The really welcomed it, its no longer in Onicha again.The people are complying very well because the have seen the dangers in it.
 “There is a law at the state level prohibiting female genital mutilation and we are cuein behind it. All the stakeholders has accepted to end FGM.If you check our traditional rulers,the have had meetings in various communities and agreed to end it.
“The joint meeting with village leaders have also agreed to stop it.Our people had stopped this practice long ago.So, there is complete compliance to it.”My advice is for people to heed to what medical experts are telling them more especially this female genital mutilation that nobody should joke with it.
Some of the major communities visited include Isu, Ukawu, Onicha Igboeze, Oshiri among others.

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