In its bid to review its efforts at curbing the menace of Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, in the society, Hacey Health Initiative, at the weekend engaged journalists and other concerned stakeholders in a day training session on ways to educate the masses on dangers associated with the cutting of female genitals.
The initiative which started in 2020 was billed to end after two years, which calls for an assessment of the impact and efforts made so far in Oyo State among others.
Addressing the participants on the theme of the event: “Stop Cut Project,” the monitoring and evaluation officer of Hacey Health Initiative, Mr. Emmanuel Oni, stressed that no fewer than 200 million women and girls have been victims of FGM globally.
He added that although efforts and engagements of all stakeholders in the last two years have gone far in helping to reduce the spread of FGM in Oyo State, more still need to be done on why the message should still be spread further into the interior.
Oni said that one of the objectives of the training is to help other stakeholders see how they can collaborate with the media and practitioners in the wider spread of the anti-FGM messages.
Oni said, “Every year up to three million girls are at the risk of being mutilated globally, in Nigeria the prevalence of FGM is estimated at 15.1 per cent among women and is 8.2 per cent in girls.
“FGM is a criminal offence, hence there is need for us to engage the media so they can help in spreading the message to the people in order to stop the cut, because its liable to both jail term and fine.
“The practice of FGM poses threat to the survival, development and productivity of women and girls.
“Treatment of complications cost $1.4 billion per year globally and is projected to rise to $2.3 billion by the year 2047, if no action is taken.”
He said that with proper education and stop of the menace, such a huge fund could be diverted to better use in human and infrastructural development.
Speaking on the objective of the “Stop Cut Project,” Oni said that there is need for public knowledge about FGM and the need for its abandonment.
He added, “Providing education on laws and policies that project women and girls from FGM advocacy for effective implementation of FGM laws and policies at all levels.” Oni said.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, Chairperson of Oyo State Council of the National Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Comrade Jadesola Ajibola, said that the Association has partnered with Hacey Health Initiative on the project in a bid to support the fight against FGM and save more women and girls from the harmful practice.
She commend the media practitioners, security operatives, Hacey Health Initiative and other stakeholders for the roles they played in the last two years the effort has been on in curtailing the spread, assuring that NAWOJ, and by extension the media, will not give up on the fight until the practice of FGM becomes a thing of the past.
In their separate remarks, the Police Officer in charge of FGM, OC Funke Ayenigbara; a former chairperson of Oyo FIDA and representative of the Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Debora Collins; representative of the Iyalode and the market women society in the state, Dr. Ayo Alaga, Oyo State Coordinator/Chairperson State Steering Committee on Female Genital Mutilation, Mrs. Balikis Olawoyin, NSCDC officer in charge of rape and FGM related cases, Mr. Afe Olurotimi, among others called on media practitioners to take ‘End FGM’ messages to the nooks and crannies of both urban and the rural areas.
They expressed optimism that with proper education through the media, FGM menace will be curbed.
They however called on members of the public to help support the fight against FGM through whistleblowing, saying that the inability and unwillingness of many victim to seek justice and redress legally has limited the level of successes that could have been achieved.
Also in attendance at the “Stop Cut Media Dialogue and Press Conference” are representative of the market women, representative of religion organizations, medical experts, top government officials, community leaders, traditional leaders, Oyo NAWOJ representatives, and FIDA, among other groups.