NGO seeks media partnership to end FGM practice in Ebonyi-By Reginald Okoro

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Gov Dave Umahi

Association of Eastern Non Governmental Organizations (ASENGOs), has organised a one-day training for media practitioners in Ebonyi to sharpen their skills in the reportage of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C).

The one-day training for the media workers drawn from the print, electronic and the new media was aimed at strengthening campaign to end FGM /C in Ebonyi.

The programme was put together by ASENGOs, a Non Governmental Organization in partnership with the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC) and AMPLIFYCHANGE.

Mrs Nancy Oko-Onya, Ebonyi coordinator of ASENGOs addressing participants expressed sadness that Ebonyi was top in the list of states in the South-East with highest prevalant rate in the practice of FGM.

According to her, the training is also designed to build synergy with the NGO to boost effective campaign.

She said that latest report has put Imo state as second in the South-East while Osun state is the highest in the practice of FGM in Nigeria.

Oko-Onya added that Nigeria was the third in Africa in the practice trailing behind Egypt and Ethiopia.

She said that robust campaign was needed to ensure the elimination of the degrading and harmful practice against the girl-child and women.

She noted that Ebonyi and Imo were selected for the plot media practitioners training.

She added that Ohaukwu, Afikpo North and Ebonyi local government areas were identified as LGAs with high incidences of FGM practice.

She explained that Abakaliki, Ebonyi and Afikpo North LGAs were target LGAs in the campaign project.

“The organisation is working on a two-year project to end FGM/C practice in Ebonyi and Imo state and our target LGAs are Abakaliki, Ebonyi and Afikpo North,” Oko-Onya said.

She urged journalists to use their various media outfits to launch vigorous campaign against the evil practice of FGM/C and ‘massaging’ which she described as the new dimension in the practice.

She also urged media practitioners to leverage the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2015 to sensitise the public especially the perpetrators of the act.

“There is no known health or medical benefit of FGM, hence we must collectively act to end the practice in our various communities,” she added.

Meanwhile, Dr Ronke Afolabi, a medical practitioner and one of the resource persons said that FGM has no health benefits and that it posed harm to the girl-child and women in many ways.

She defined FGM as the partial or total removal of the female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organ for non medical reasons.

She further listed clitoridemus; excision, infibulation and general unclassified genital injuries as the four most practised FGM .

She said that the practice was a gross violation of the sexual and reproductive rights of the girls and women with severe medical and health implications.

She said that there could be medical reasons to warrant medical practitioners to carryout FGM especially if the person had been diagnosed with cancer of the vulva.

She said that such a medical condition might require partial or total removal of the external genitalia to save the patient’s life.

Ronke however argued that any interference with the female external genitalia for non medical reasons amounted to mutilation.

She further said that medicalisation of FGM would not reduce the long term effect but rather could only offer a short term benefit including reduction of infections.

She said: “The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that $1.4billion is spent annually to treat complications arising from FGM globally and that the amount may double.

“Females are the ones at risk when we talk about FGM but it can span from infancy even to old age; it can be done at infancy, adloscent and occasionally on adult women during child birth.

“The burden is still very high in Nigeria but this practice is concentrated in some parts of the world and it’s more prevalant among the black race.”

She said that an estimated 25 per cent of the Nigerian girls and women underwent one form of FGM or the other.

“The sad thing is that Nigeria is ranking third in Africa in this practice and we are the ones that will stimulate action to put an end to the practice,” she added.

Mr Barikamou Adou, vetran broadcast journalist, in his presentation urged media practitioners to create contents that would serve to educate the populace on the evil effect of FGM.

Adou urged journalists to push out adequate information through relevant medium at the right time to inform, enlighten and educate the people on the negative implication of FGM.

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