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The Ekiti State First Lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, has tasked traditional rulers and religious leaders to double their efforts in the fight against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in the state.
Mrs Fayemi said the practice has caused a lot of damage to the lives of female children by way of rendering them barren due to infection, causing psychological trauma and emotional disturbances .
The First Lady spoke in Ado Ekiti, on Monday, during a stakeholders’ forum commemorating the International Day of zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation(FGM).
Discussants at the event were; an Ibadan based Physician, Dr. Dare Bello, Chairperson, Gender Relevance Initiative Promotion, Barr. Rita Ilevbare, Executive Director, New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD), among others.
Mrs Fayemi said: “After so many years, we are still talking about ending FGM. We are still having issues of Nigeria being one the highest in the world and Ekiti having one of the highest prevalence in the country.
“But the government of Dr Kayode Fayemi has shown political will to be able to rout FGM in Ekiti. We put in place the FGM Law 2002 and GBV law of 2019, which stipulated that whoever is caught doing FGM will go to three months imprisonment . The law has now become stiffer than before.
“Time has come to prove that our laws are not there for nothing, they have to be enforced . Though, we are still facing challenges, but we have stakeholders who are ready to work with us to achieve the target goals.
“We need to intensify drop- the- blade campaign, raise the awareness in schools and for our communities to take ownership of the advocacy to end both FGM and GBV. This is where our traditional Rulers, Pastors, Imams, Iyalojas and community groups have a lot of roles to play, because they are the closest to the people”.
The First Lady said the state has provided a home and vocational centre for GBV survivors, being part of efforts to put a soothing balm on the pain inflicted on the victims.
“We have also put mechanisms in place to ensure continuity. The laws should not be personalised, they must be institutionalised, so that whoever comes after Governor Fayemi will sustain the fight” .
Speaking on the menace of FGM, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, said the practice had become endemic in the African society and gradually assuming a global dimension.
“The practice is of global concern. Ekiti ranks very high on the practice in Nigeria. It is unacceptable and that is why we have criminalised the practice, because it is harmful and dangerous”.
The Commissioner for Women Affairs, Alhaja Maryam Ogunlade, regretted that many trained medical practitioners
are still engaging in violation of human rights by circumcising girl children despite knowing the implications of such practice.
The Chairmen, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs and Health , Hons Yemisi Ayokunle and Teju Okuyiga, said the house will continue to partner the executive arm for the enactment of laws that would stipulate stiffer penalties for practitioners.
They said: “FGM is a violation of the basic rights of women and girls as well as hazardous to their health. The House has been giving speedy passage to any bill that has to do with gender equality and the protection of the rights of women in Ekiti to demonstrate our commitment to the fight”.