Awka – There is need for concerted efforts to stop the continued practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), female disinheritance and male child preference in some communities in Anambra, an advocacy group, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), has said.
Lead Consultant with RoLAC, Prof. Mercy Anagbogu made the assertion in Awka, on Wednesday, at a Preliminary Findings Review Meeting with stakeholders.
The group, sponsored by the British Council, carried out a research in selected communities, to promote the campaign to end FGM and other Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP) in the state.
The research also looked to sensitize communities on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP), Law as a framework to accessing justice.
Speaking at the event, Anagbogu said FGM and HTP such as widowhood practices, denial of inheritance rights, and male child preference, posed severe health risks and violate girls’ and women’s right to dignity and bodily integrity.
According to her, it is unfortunate that in spite of the enactment of the VAPP Law in 2017, FGM and other harmful traditional practices are still prevalent in Anambra.
“During our research, these communities told us they have stopped female genital ‘Cutting’ because they no longer use blade, whereas they still do what is called ‘Numbing’.
“They use very hot water, Robb, Vaseline, or dusting powder to harshly rub and numb the genital part of a new born baby to retard the development of the clitoris.
“These communities found another method to achieve the same purpose which they believe will help curb sexual desire and tame girls or women.
“They also said there was nothing harmful about widowhood practices which includes compulsory mourning, not seen by others or allowed to bath or wash her clothes, female disinheritance, and male child preference,” she observed.
Also speaking, another Consultant with RoLAC, Mrs Uju Onyendilefu, said there was the need to raise awareness about FGM and harmful traditional practices as well as the legal consequences.
According to her, women mostly enforce these harmful practices on fellow women because they have accepted them as normal even when they contravene the VAPP Law
“We need to reduce the incidence of FGM/HTC through advocacy via the media and meaningful community engagement.
“We need to educate the communities on the existence of VAPP Law, platforms to access medical support for victims of FGM and framework for seeking justice for victims.
“We need to also support the implementation of VAPP Law to increase access to justice,” she said.