..as Ondo First Lady reiterates commitment towards stemming the tide
As the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, is being marked today worldwide, the newly created Ondo State Agency Against Gender-based Violence, OSAA-GBV, kicks off its constitutionally empowered duty with the day by hosting a live Television Panel Discussion for stakeholders in gender advocacy, on how to end the barbaric Act in the state.
This was as the First Lady of Ondo State, Chief Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who chaired the agency, reiterated the commitment of OSAA-GBV to intensify efforts at eradicating the unhealthy practice in the state.
In her message which was relayed to the public during the FGM panel discussion, aired on Ondo State Radiovision Corporation Television, Mrs. Akeredolu enjoined individuals and organisations in the state to contribute their quotas in fighting the act to the barest minimum.
She said: ” You all agree with me that Ondo State has started well by passing the VAPP bill into law and followed immediately, without delay, the establishment of an agency known as OSAA-GBV. I hereby, reiterate our commitment to working towards reducing, to the barest minimum, FGM cases in Ondo State.
Speaking on the theme of the event, ‘Accelerating Investment to end FGM’, she noted that achieving the goal entailed investing in programmes to provide services and responses for those affected and those at risk, and in developing and enforcing laws and fortifying institutions capacity to eradicate FGM; and called on all to “Invest Do Not Rest”.
Featuring on the live programme as Panelists were the Special Adviser to the Governor on Gender, Mrs. Olamide Falana, the Executive Secretary of OSAA-GBV, Mrs. Bola Joel-Ogundadegbe, and the Director of Medical Services in the Ondo State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr. Kunle Omode.
While the audience included Representatives of Market Women, NGOs in gender advocacy, female students, midwives and traditional birth Attendants, Foundation for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Female Political Appointees, FOWOSO, Nurses, Religious organisations, amongst others.
In her submission, the Special Adviser on Gender, lauded the political will demonstrated by the state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, by approving the establishment of the agency and providing resources needed for its take-off.
On what to do to eradicate the old practice, Falana appealed to mothers to accept that it has no socio-cultural benefits, while nullifying the belief that if a female child is not being mutilated, she will be promiscuous.
She noted that Promiscuity was a matter of choice and growing up, as she advocated the need for whistle blowers in communities to expose perpetrators.
The Executive Secretary of the agency, Ogundadegbe, hinted that the agency would henceforth, apply the VAPP Law in dealing with FGM cases; which according to her, was stated as a form of violation of human rights under the law.
She informed the public that whoever was directly involved in FGM practice was liable to four years imprisonment or 200,000 fine; while Aiding and abetting of such was liable to two years jail term.
She highlighted activities put up by the agency to include Community sensitisation to increase awareness about Sexual and Gender-based Violence in all the 18 local government areas of the state and by collaborating with NGOs to collect data.
Dr Kunle Omode, Director of Medical Services ODPHCB, hinted that there were several medical implications of FGM, with no known medical usefulness.
According to him, the practice only subjected women to either immediate or future hardship like haemorrhage and infections.
He pointed out future effects to include complications and difficulty in delivery due to the manipulation done on the vaginal or painful intercourse.
Stakeholders at the programme, therefore, concluded that FGM was a contributory factor to maternal and infant mortality, infertility and that health education should be increased in the rural areas with the involvement of traditional rulers and the religious centres, including the creation of FGM vanguards.
By Mary Agidi
Special Assistant to the Governor on Media
(Office of the First Lady)
Feb., 6th 2021.