UNICEF Says 19.9m Women,Girls Are Survivors of FGM In Nigeria


Abah Nnanna

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that the increasing rate of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice has grown with estimated 19.9 million survivors in Nigeria.

The practice rose from 16.9 percent in 2013 to 19.2 percent in 2018, adding that FGM remains widespread in Nigeria, with an estimated 19.9 million survivors.

Mrs. Maureen Zubie-Okolo, Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Office, Enugu who was represented by Mr. Victor Atuluchukwu, a Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, Enugu Office stated that, “Nigeria accounts for the third highest number of women and girls who have undergone FGM worldwide”

Zubie-Okolo made the revelation during the weekend on the occasion of a one day Media dialogue on the 2022 International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, held in Golden Royale Hotel, Enugu.

The event was organized by Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA) Umuahia, in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Mrs. Zubie-Okolo, disclosed that COVID-19 disruptions could greatly increase genital mutilation to about 2million cases by 2030, a situation that would have been adverted if not for the pandemic.

This year’s theme is -“Accelerating Investment to End Female Genital Mutilation”,

The UNICEF boss warned that FGM is on the rise among Nigerian girls aged 0-14,
noted that the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, “reminds us that we are not alone in this work and that we need to accelerate efforts- especially with families and communities, to achieve a Nigeria safe for girls and women and finally free of FGM”

The Officer explained that the national prevalence of FGM among women in Nigeria, aged 15-49 dropped from 25 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2018, while prevalence among girls aged O-14 increased from 16.9 percent to 19.2 percent in the same year.

She noted that across Nigeria, there are disparities in the practice.

“State prevalence ranges from 62 percent in Imo to less than 1 percent in Adamawa and Gombe. The prevalence of FGM is highest in the South East (35 percent) and South West (30 percent) and the lowest in the North East (6 percent).
UNICEF is initiating a community-led movement to eliminate FGM in five Nigerian states where it is highly prevalent: Ebonyi, Ekiti, Imo, Osun and Oyo. Nearly 3 million girls and women would have undergone FGM in these states in the last five years,”

Dr. Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, Communications Officer, UNICEF, Enugu Office explained that the objectives of the media dialogue included engaging and equiping Journalists with adequate knowledge about the practice.

The Journalists were drawn from two States where the FGM is more rife and from three other surrounding States with minimal records of the practice.

Barr. Ijeoma Ajanwachukeu during her presentation said that FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights of girls and women, describing it is an extreme form of discrimination against girls and women- rights to health, security and physical integrity, right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Director General of Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State, Mr. Anyaso Anyaso, noted that accelerated and increased investment in women and girls is key to elimination of FGM.

He emphasized that FGM comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons, adding that girls who undergo female genital mutilation face short-term complications such as severe pain, shock, excessive bleeding, infections, and difficulty in passing urine, as well as long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health and mental health.

“This year’s FGM theme, is seeking for collectively investment of human and capital resources in the fight against the obnoxious and harmful FGM practice”, he added.

In his presentation, titled “FGM Practice in Nigeria” Mr. Victor Atuchukwu, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Field Office, Enugu, stated that treating FGM would cost USD 1.4billion per year globally, if all resulting medical were addressed.
“If no action is taken, it is estimated that these cost will soar by 50% as population grow as more girls undergo the procedure,” he added.

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