Home News Eliminating FGM in Nigeria crucial to achieving SDGs

Eliminating FGM in Nigeria crucial to achieving SDGs

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

The Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, says eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Nigeria by 2030 is crucial to realising many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

She said this on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the “Movement for Good to End Female Genital Mutilation” in Nigeria.

The movement is a collaboration between the Ministry of Women Affairs, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other development partners to end FGM in the country.

Tallen said that the SDG targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth were being threatened by continuous practice of FGM.

She added that “the practice denies girls and women the right to equal education opportunities for decent work and their health, particularly sexual and reproductive health.

“FGM is a traditional practice inflicted on girls and women worldwide, and it is widely recognised as a violation of human right, which is deeply rooted in cultural beliefs and perceptions of advocates and generations.

“The procedure involves the partial or total remote removal of the external female genital, causing injury to the organs.”

According to her, FGM is seen as a rite of passage of a girl-child to womanhood, usually encouraged by family members in the fear and belief of social and societal sanctions.

The minister said “I would like to state firmly that the procedure of FGM has no health benefits for girls and women at all, instead, it destroys the psyche of the child and the woman.

“During the procedure, the mental and psychological agony attached is deemed the most serious complication because the problem does not manifest outwardly for help to be offered.”

She, however, said that in addition to the provision of the law against the practice, the Federal Government and partners were working to ensure an end to the menace by 2030, in line with the SDGs.

Tallen added that “we are working with UNFPA to establish surveillance system and mobilise FGM champions to deliver door-to-door household discussions with community groups in Oyo and Osun states.

“This year, we hope to scale up coverage across states in the South-South zone, community consciousness and public declaration of FGM abandonment to get data of communities that are ready to stop the practice.

“We also want to gather data of communities that are yet to consent for abandonment of FGM practice.”

Mr Matthias Schmale, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) reported decline since 2013 in the prevalence of FGM from approximately 25 per cent to 20 per cent.

He added that the highest rates remained in the South East at 35 per cent and South West at 30 per cent among women of reproductive age 15 to 49 years.

He said “another aspect of this is that the medicalisation of FGM in Nigeria remains a threat in some states, for example Ekiti, Osun and Oyo.

“Although the overall prevalence has decreased, analysis of the data shows an increased level of mutilation through medicalisation.”

Schmale said the data also showed that many of the mutilations were carried out on girls 14 years and below, indicating that the prevalence of the practice was perpetrated in early life.

He added that “what this tells us is that the perpetrators of this harmful practice are devising ways to circumvent surveillance and diminish the gains recorded over the years toward the eradication of FGM in Nigeria.

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