Group seeks genital mutilation laws review

A non-governmental organisation, Hacey Health Initiative, has canvassed sustained broader efforts among stakeholders to eliminate the practice of female genital mutilation.

Hacey representative, Bamidele Oyewunmi, who lamented the prevalence of FGM practice, which he said caused irreversible damage to the victims and as well violation of their rights, called on governments to take necessary steps including review of the implementation and enforcement of the policies and laws on FGM.

Oyewunmi, who spoke in Ado Ekiti at a one-day capacity building workshop on FGM laws and policies said, “The state government can ensure that all policies and laws already existing are strengthened including the application of fines as stated in the legal documents. This will educate people on the consequences that the practice of the act of FGM/C will attract”.

Hacey, however, called on stakeholders including community members, media organisations, NGOs, and religious cum community leaders/influencers on continuous and periodic engagement with members for education on FGM, how to eliminate the practice, and the need to encourage victims to speak up.

A speaker, Mrs Olukemi Akinleye of Ekiti State Ministry of Health, who said that the workshop was targeted at building capacity for media personnel as major stakeholders in curbing the menace, said, “We want to encourage people to speak out whenever they see people perpetrating this act. When this is reported, the government will take necessary action against it.

“We still notice that people are still doing it for cultural beliefs and traditions. We want to use this medium to encourage people that FGM is an act that brings a lot of consequences to the girl child and women. It has to stop,” she said.

Legal expert and Head of Ekiti State Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Rita Ilevbare, who spelled out punitive measures for breach of the state anti-FGM law, said, “We want people to know that there is a law and how it works. The essence of the law is not to fold hands and allow this gender-based violence to take place but programmed towards prevention.

“More importantly, the citizens need to know that there is a law that has punitive effect, especially FGM. The penalty is nothing less than two years imprisonment and nothing less than N200,000 fine,” Ilevbare.

Source: PUNCH

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