Ambode declares total war against female genital mutilation

•    Says it violates human rights, has no relationship to any religious teaching

LAGOS State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, said on Tuesday that his administration will do everything possible to eliminate the harmful practices of female genital mutilation in the state, declaring that the practice violated human rights, had no relationship to any religious teaching and must never be performed.

Governor Ambode made this declaration while speaking at the high-level meeting on Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) organised by HOFOWEM led by Mrs Bolanle Ambode, wife of Lagos State governor, in collaboration with AHI, UNFA and UNICEF.

The meeting was attended by wife of Oyo governor, Mr Florence Ajimobi; wife of Oyo State deputy governor, Mrs Adeyemo; the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Sotobi; Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Hon Lola Akande; Coordinator of HOFOWEM, Mrs Oyefunke Adeleke; traditional birth attendants, among others.

Speaking at the event, which took place at Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, the governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, said the practice was a violation of the fundamental rights of the girls and women as their consents were not usually obtained.

He said this was so because the procedures were carried out at a very young age with no possibility of consent.

According to him, the practice violates the right of young girls and women to health, security and physical integrity and occasionally to life, describing the FGM as cruel, criminal, inhuman and degrading to the female gender.

“I wish to congratulate the organisers of this meeting and I want assure all that the present administration will do everything possible to eliminate these harmful practices in the state.

“Towards this end, I hereby declare that FMG violates human rights and it must never be performed. FMG has no health benefits, only harm. The practice is in no way related to any religious teaching.

“As a government, we shall intensify our public awareness creation interventions and initiate processes towards the enactment of a state law against the practice of FGM in the state,” Governor Ambode said.

Mrs Ambode, while citing the erroneous beliefs that made people embrace the traditional practice of female genital mutilation in the past, lamented that the practice added no value but injurious consequences.

“The consequences of the injurious practice have clearly shown that we must all collectively put efforts together to eradicate it. A woman can die from excessive bleeding or even become childless throughout her life from a genital circumcision procedure that has no medical or emotional benefit to her,” she said.

“To abolish this unhealthy practice, therefore, there is need for a multi-disciplinary approach involving legislations, professional health organisations, women empowerment, as well as educating and sensitising the general public on the adverse effects of Female Genital Mutilation,” she added.

On her part, Mrs Ajimobi attested to the high prevalence of the practice and the danger it posed to life, saying it was clearly against the fundamental human rights, even as she called for domestication of laws against such practice in order to put an end to it.

Ajimobi urged the people of Lagos to rise up against what she termed as harmful traditional practice, declaring that an end must be put to it as quickly as possible.

The Ayangburen, Oba Sotobi, who pointed out that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, had gone down considerably by about 95 per cent in Ikorodu Division, frowned at the practice, saying result of scientific research in the medical world had proved beyond reasonable doubt that everything possible be must done to eradicate the “obnoxious practice.”

The monarch, while pledging to collaborate with the state government to ensure total eradication of the practice, called for setting up of a powerful committee comprising of all stakeholders that would champion the cause of total eradication of the practice in the state.

According to him, the committee will among others assignments work in concert with the state House of Assembly to update any existing law on the practice and promulgate a complete new law that would deal decisively with the matter.