The Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRCS), Lagos State Branch, has called on mothers and girls to shun beliefs motivating the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), to prevent health complications.
Mrs Charity Nweze, Coordinator, Mothers Club, NRCS made the call at the sidelines of an event, on Tuesday in Lagos.
The event was organised by NRCS, Lagos State Branch and White Truck Empowerment Initiative (WTEI) to sensitise the girl child and communities on the dangers of FGM.
FGM is the partial or total removal of the clitoris or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
Nweze explained that communities who practiced FGM were driven by beliefs of it ensuring premarital virginity and marital fidelity.
She added that many women and girls succumbed to pressure because of wanting to do what others did or have been doing, and the fear of being rejected by their communities.
Nweze, however, cautioned mothers, in particular, not to subject their girl children to FGM because of the short and long term consequences on their health.
“Mothers should talk to their husbands about the dangers of FGM so he can also educate his relatives about it.
“When people know about the dangers, they will stop practising it,” she said.
Mrs Temitope Oladapo, Focal Point, Protection Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, NRCS, maintained that FGM was a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
She urged the participants to be outspoken and refuse to be victims of FGM.
Oladapo advised the girls to make their mothers their friends so they could share their fears and challenges with them in order to get the support they needed.
Also, Mrs Taiye Edah, Project Coordinator, WTEI, said the programme was aimed at creating awareness for the girl child and empowering her to have knowledge of her rights.
“We want the girls to realise that they have the right to say no to FGM,” she said.
Over 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the immediate complications of FGM include; severe pain, excessive bleeding, infections, shock and death.
Long-term issues include increased risk of childbirth complications, surgeries to open the vagina for child birth, urinary, vaginal, menstrual and sexual problems.
The WHO also said that treatment of health complications of FGM in 27 high prevalence countries is estimated to cost 1.4 billion dollars per year.
“It is projected to rise to 2.3 billion USD by 2047 if no action is taken,” it said.