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A NGO, Women against Violence and Exploitation (WAVE) has called for alternative sources of income for local circumcisers to discourage Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The President, WAVE Foundation, Mrs Lola Ibrahim, a third generation survivor of FGM made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.

She noted that FGM was mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers who often played other central roles in communities such as delivery of babies and other traditional rites.

According to her, alternative source of income for the local circumcisers would afford them less time to dedicate to FGM and other harmful practices on women and girls.

“We must not relent until women and girls are free to live a life free of torture and violence.

“We must ensure everyone is well educated about the implications of FGM,’’ Ibrahim said.

She said FGM was recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women as it reflected deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

Ibrahim attributed the practice to cultural or traditional beliefs often performed on young girls between infancy and age of 15 years.

The WAVE president said the practice also violated a female’s rights to health, security and physical integrity.

It violated the right to be free from torture and cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death, she added.

She said FGM had no health benefits, but caused severe pains, excessive bleeding, infections, urinary problems, shock, death, disability, complications during childbirth and increased risk of infant mortality, painful menstruation, and sexual dysfunction.

Ibrahim called for a gender-sensitive budgeting that gave women economic independence and stronger policies to encourage girl-child education to end all forms of violations and harmful practices on women and girls.

“We need a stronger policing system and quicker access to justice, immediate prosecution of violators of the Violence against Persons Prohibition Law and the Child Rights Law to serve as deterrent,’’ she said.

According to Ibrahim, the Foundation has collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and other NGOs to sensitise the public on COVID-19, Violence against Women and Girls and distributed menstrual hygiene materials and palliatives to women and girls.

The WHO reported recently that treatment of health complications from FGM in 27 high prevalence countries costs 1.4 billion dollars annually.

More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated, with Nigeria having 10 per cent of the global total prevalence rate.

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