By; AMOS TAUNA, Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday that, it is important to keep educating girls and women on the negative implications of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), as the world celebrated the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.
UNICEF observed that daughters of educated women were less likely to be cut than those whose mothers were uneducated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, pointing out that the practice has no health benefits for girls and women and causes severe bleeding and problems with urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
It added that the practice of FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women, observing that it is nearly always carried out by traditional practitioners on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.
In a UNICEF report, titled, “Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Data that delivers change and results for girls and women,” UNICEF explained that approximately 35 per cent of girls aged zero to 14 in the Southeast are affected by FGM, closely followed by the Southwest region with 30 per cent of girls affected.
It said that it is worrisome to note that Ekiti State accounts for nearly 24 per cent of girls affected by FGM, while Oyo State has 21 per cent.
Another report titled, “The power of education to end female genital mutilation,” explained that education is an important mechanism to increase awareness of the dangers of FGM and of groups that do not practice it, saying that education also fosters questioning and discussion and provides opportunities for individuals to take on social roles that are not dependent on the practice of FGM for acceptance.
It noted that the link between FGM and the education of girls and women rests on the assumption that educated women, as opposed to those with little or no education, would be less likely to have their daughters cut. One possible scenario is that, while in school, girls develop social ties with peers and mentors who are opposed to FGM.
According to the report, “This could provide a reference group for which no normative sanctions exist for failing to comply with FGM. Educational settings may also provide an opportunity for discussion and a social environment conducive to the formation of new ideas. Additionally, educated women may have greater exposure to intervention programmes, media messages, and local and international discourse that denounce the practice, potentially creating sanctions for continuing FGM.”