- The Nigerian government has decided to observe the International Day for Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The fight against the harmful practice is to be marked on 6 February each year, the Nigerian government announced yesterday. Around 50 percent of Nigeria's women are victim to the practice of FGM.
As from next year, 6 February is to be "observed as Nigeria's Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Elimination Day," the Nigerian federal government announced yesterday. The date earlier had been declared by the World Health Assembly and approved by the Federal Executive Council.
Female Genital Mutilation - sometimes misleadingly called Female Circumcision - is one of the traditional practices that are deeply entrenched in many cultures and traditions worldwide. This practice has over the years received global attention and condemnation because of its many serious physical and mental consequences, which have social, economic and political implications.
Nigeria is one of the 27 countries in Africa where FGM is still practiced. In Nigeria, the harmful practice has a prevalence rate of between 40 and 50 percent, according to earlier Nigerian estimates. UN estimates however puts the FGM rate at approximately 60 percent among the nation's female population, with local rates reaching 90 percent.
Yesterday, the Nigerian Ministry of Women Affairs published data putting the national FGM prevalence at 41 percent and regional variations ranging from 0.60 percent to 98.60 percent. "This high rate of prevalence poses a threat to government efforts to provide adequate health care, and fight against HIV/AIDS, as one of the consequences of FGM is the transmission of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases," the Ministry said.
While the Nigerian federal government so far has publicly condemned FGM as a harmful practice, it has not taken any legal action against FGM in the past. Nigeria, like many other countries of the world, however has taken several steps aimed at eliminating all forms of practices that infringe on the dignity of women and girls, including the support of campaigns against FGM.
- To this end, Nigeria has ratified several UN Conventions and Declarations that make provision for the promotion and protection of the health of women and girls, the Nigerian Ministries of Health and of Women Affairs said in a joint statement yesterday.
By marking the International Day for Zero Tolerance to FGM, the Ministries expect to "bring together all stakeholders to join hands to achieve zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in the country." This, said Minister of Information, Chief Chukwuemeka Chikelu, was to "give the necessary support that fighting against FGM deserves."
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