Traditional rulers and religious leaders in Osun State have warned against Female Genital Mutilation practice and pledged to join the campaign to eliminate it in the state.
They gave this commitment in Osogbo, Osun State capital at One-Day State Level Engagement with traditional rulers, religious leaders, women groups and other stakeholders on elimination of FGM practice.
The engagement was organised by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information.
Speaking on behalf of 29 traditional rulers that attended the meeting, the Alaagba of Aagba, Oba Rufus Olayinka Ogunwole said Female Genital Mutilation has no benefit and pose danger to the survivors.
Also, the Chief Imam of Telemu, Imam Musa Raji who spoke on behalf of religious leaders in the state said they have realised that the practice was harmful and would discourage it among their followers.
UNICEF Senior Programme Associate for Child Protection Section and Focal Point for the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) programme, Mrs Phydelia Abbas, said the prevalence rate of the practice was 78% in Osun in 2013 and that it has reduced to 45.9% in 2018 according to Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey.
Abbas said until the practice was totally eliminated, all stakeholders must continue to make efforts to discourage it and ensure that no child is cut again anywhere.
UNICEF FGM Consultant for South West, Mrs Aderonke Olutayo, also said FGM was a violation of the dignity and rights of girls and women in society.
Olutayo said that the popular belief that FGM was being done to curb sexual appetites in girls, preparing them for marriage, intimation into womanhood, among other reasons were false.
Quoting a World Health Organisation (WHO) data, Olutayo said $1.4 billion would be spent every year globally to cater for survivors and other matters relating to FGM if the practice continues.
She said engagement with the traditional rulers and religious leaders was because of their influence on their subjects and followers and urged them to be in the vanguard of the campaign against FGM practice.
“Traditional rulers are here because when they make a pronouncement, it will be binding on their subjects.
“Religious leaders are also here to help us to de-link FGM from religion injunction because the harmful practice is not in the Bible or the Quran”, Olutayo said.
At the end of the engagement, the traditional rulers denounced FGM and signed a communiqué.
They vowed that FGM would no longer be practised in their localities and that whoever contravenes the law banning the practice should be arrested by law enforcement agents and face the full wrath of the law.