The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA Nigeria), Lagos Branch, on Monday, February 6, 2023 joined the global community in marking the 2023 edition of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
In a statement signed by Mrs. Chinwe Efobi, and Mrs. Chika Eucharia Okolie, its Chairperson and PRO respectively – and made available to NEWSWIRE Law and Events Magazine – the body said this year’s theme, “PARTNERSHIP WITH MEN AND BOYS TO TRANSFORM SOCIAL AND GENDER NORMS TO END FGM,” provides an opportunity for all stakeholders involved in ending FGM to celebrate achievements, advocate the abandonment of the practice and raise awareness.
Also known as female circumcision, FGM refers to all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is most often carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
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FIDA Nigeria Lagos Branch asserted that in every form in which it is practiced, FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights, including their rights to health, security and dignity, and called for its total eradication, adding than an unacceptably high number of countries around the world still engage in the practice inspite of advocacy and awareness even on the part of perpetrators.
According to FIDA, statistics indicate that FGM directly affects more than 200 million women around the world, many of whom still live with its damaging after-effects, which are sometimes life-long and life-threatening, with young women making up a disproportionate percentage of victims, vis a vis older women.
These after-effects include constant discomfort, flashbacks, a tendency to self-harm, severe pain, difficulty having sex, problems in urinating and holding on urine, depression, and problems during labor and childbirth. Some girls die from hemorrhage during the procedure and repeated infections which can lead to infertility, bleeding, cysts and swellings, a higher risk of maternal and infant mortality, a higher risk of contracting HIV, difficulty menstruating, and painful urination, etc.
FIDA praised the involvement of boys and men as indicated in this year’s theme, describing it as extremely indispensable, and stressing that the non-existence of dialogue between men and women has led to abandonment of support in the past.
FIDA however expressed confidence that advocacy and collaboration between men and women’s health and community initiatives are important steps forward in this process, with their joint voices expected to play a major role in transforming deep-rooted social and gender norms and helping girls and women to realize their rights and potentials with regard to health, education, income, equality and dignity
In view of the foregoing, FIDA Nigeria, Lagos Branch called for greater awareness in the fight against FGM, urging stakeholders to take the anti-FGM campaign to families and communities still involved in the practice.
The group also called on government agencies saddled with enforcement responsibilities to take the issue of FGM more seriously, saying the continued prevalence of FGM in our society was due to the lack of strong penalties against perpetrators. Such action, the body said, would ensure a sane and safe environment for women and girls to live in a society free of FGM.