The Lagos State Government on Wednesday took its sensitisation campaign on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage to Agege market in Lagos.
The two-day programme was an outreach intervention strategy against harmful traditional practices in some sub-urban communities of Lagos state organized by state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA).
Speaking during the event, Mrs Oluyemi Kalesanwo, WAPA Permanent Secretary, said FGM was the ritual of cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Kalesanwo said that women who have undergone FGM were more likely to suffer from prolonged and obstructed labour, sometimes resulting in foetal death and obstetric fistula.
She said that infants of mothers who have undergone more extensive forms of FGM are at an increased risk of dying at birth.
She also said that child marriage was any marriage where at least one of the parties was under 18 years of age.
“Forced Marriage is a marriage in which one and or both parties has/have not personally expressed their fill and free consent to the union.
“Child/Early Forced Marriage is a human right violation that rob girls of their childhood, education, and limit their possibilities for growth and stability. This is mainly caused by poverty.
“43 per cent of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 16 per cent are married before the age of 15.
“Child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68 per cent and 57 per cent of women aged 20-49 are married before their 18th birthday,” she said.
Kalesanwo said that some of the effects of such marriages included lack of understanding between spouses, risk of a miscarriage if conceived early, financial crisis, compatibility issues, low self-esteem among others.
She said that the causes of FGM and child early forced marriage were synonymous, which included ignorance, illiteracy, traditional and religious belief.
She said part of the solutions to the menace of FGM, child/early and forced marriage was the reason WAPA came to sensitise men and boys including women about the dangers of FGM and child/early/forced marriage.
Also, Dr Yakubu Aliyu, Programme Specialist Reproductive Health, Acting Head, Lagos Liaison Office, said that the sensitisation was to create awareness that FGM was not done on girls again.
Aliyu said that the sensitisation was also to educate people that FGM which was mutilation of the female genital organ was a violation of human rights.
He said that the practice had no medical benefit, causes infection, bleeding and complications during delivery.
Commenting, the Babaloja (Leader of the traders in that market) of Agege market, Alhaji Musibau Afuwape, urged all men to stop the age long practice of FGM.
Afuwape said that since WAPA had enlightened them on the ills of FGM, he would be taking the advocacy seriously.
Also, Alhaja Monsurat Ajayi-Adeyemi, Vice Iyaloja, Agege market, said that most parents did not know that FGM was a criminal act.
Ajayi-Adeyemi said that with the sensitisation, it behooves on the market leaders to take the message across all sections of the market