The 28 autonomous communities in Ngor-Okpala Local Government Area of Imo State, on Friday abolished female genital mutilation, describing it as a celebration of liberty from fear and superstition.
The ceremony that marked the declaration, took place at the Perpetua Nkwocha Stadium, Umuneke Ngor, where monarchs, women, youth leaders, and clerics officially declared an end to the practice.
Speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Ngor Okpala Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Geoffrey Okoro, noted that the monarchs in the area had, since the past two years, along with other stakeholders and community leaders, held meetings to discuss how they would put an end to the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting.
He stated that extensive community consultations and sensitisation campaigns by UNICEF, National Orientation Agency and other sister organisations climaxed with the public declaration of the abolition of the cultural practice.
The monarch disclosed that traditional rulers in the local government area had demonstrated a strong commitment, sincerity of purpose and passion in engaging the people in dialogue, which resulted in the collective agreement to stop the practice.
Also speaking at the event, the state Director of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Vitus Ekeocha, disclosed that in furtherance of the resolutions reached at the open dialogue, the agency had facilitated the mapping of 28 communities in the local government area, according to community governance structures, events, schedules, key gate-keepers, opinion leaders, nature and type of FGM practised in the areas.
“Two community members from 10 communities identified during the mapping exercise were equipped with knowledge and skills to conduct household discussions on FGM and make referrals to health facilities for care and support for girls and women who have undergone FGM,” Ekeocha said.
As part of efforts to increase awareness on the immediate and long-term consequences of FGM, Ekeocha disclosed that NOA had organised a media dialogue on February 6, 2017, to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM in Imo State, which was preceded by a live phone-in programme on a radio station.
“Furthermore, NOA in partnership with relevant state ministries, departments, agencies and civil society organisations, held meetings with traditional rulers to consolidate the impact of ongoing awareness and community dialogue across focal communities as well as galvanise communities’ efforts/commitments to end FGM through public declaration at community level or as a collection of communities on November 11, 2017,” he ssaid.