Nigeria’s Minister of Women’s Affairs, Pauline Tallenhas said for Nigeria to achieve a majority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, it must address issues of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.
The minister said this while speaking at the launch of the “movement for good to end FGM” in Abuja on Thursday.
Ms Tallen said the 2030 targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work, and economic growth cannot be achieved except FGM is eliminated in the country.
She noted that the continuous practice of FGM denies girls and women the right to quality education and opportunities for decent work and their sexual and reproductive health is threatened.
She said the procedure of FGM has no health benefit for girls and women but rather causes more problems for them.
“The resulting outcome of FGM are adverse haemorrhage, infection, acute urinary retention following such trauma, damage to the urethra or anus,” she said.
She added that during the procedure, the victim would struggle through an experience which leads to chronic pelvic infection, dysmenorrhea, retention cysts, sexual difficulties, obstetric complications, bleeding, prolonged labour, leading to fistula formation, amongst others.
“The mental and psychological agony attached with FGM is deemed the most serious complication because the problem does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered,” she said.
“FGM, a violation of human rights”
FGM, according to United Nations (UN), “comprises all procedures that involve aging or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons”.
It is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women, the global organization says.
The global body says it aims to have the practice eradicated around the world by 2030.
Over 200 million girls and women have been subjected to the harmful practice of FGM in 30 countries including Nigeria.
With an estimated 19.9 million survivors, Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of the 200 million FGM survivors worldwide.
Speaking at the event, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, Matthias Schmale, said the prevalence of FGM amongst girls up to 14 years old is still on the rise.
Mr Schmale said 86 per cent of these children were mutilated before the age of five, meaning FGM is the s greatest in the early years of life.
“What this tells us is that the perpetrators of this harmful practice are devising ways to circumvent surveillance and diminish the gains recorded over the years towards the eradication of FGM in Nigeria, by targeting infants who neither knows nor understand the enormousity or magnitude of the practice they are being subjected to,” he said.
He explained that the practice of FGM which he noted is handed over from generation to generation, and culturally justified, is no longer acceptable.
He noted that this practice violates women’s and girls’ rights to life, health, and dignity as well as their bodily autonomy.
“The time to end FGM in Nigeria is now and the responsibility to do so lies with us all,” he said.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, said, at least 200 women worldwide have undergone genital mutilation and more might be affected in the coming years.
Ms Blatmann said FGM contravenes the rights of every woman.
“Indeed to promote the elimination of this scourge, coordinated and systematic efforts involving everyone are needed,” she said.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, said FGM harms women and girls across the continent and the US is working with its partners around the world to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence including FGM.
Ms Leonard said the US government has been steadfast in its partnership with Nigeria.
Mr Schmale said the movement launched today will support innovative and safe platforms driven by young people who have pledged their commitment to end the practice of FGM using the hashtag “act to end FGM.”
He said the expansion of digital literacy and increased access to social media platforms in the country presents an opportunity to advance positive social norms that promote the health and well-being of children and in particular girls.
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