Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Tuesday said that 45 out of every 100 females in the state had had one form of Female Genital Mutilation or the other.
Ambode, represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said this at a High-Level Meeting on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation organised by the Hope for Women Initiative in collaboration with Action Health Incorporation in Lagos.
HOFOWEN is a pet project of the Wife of the Governor, Bolanle Ambode, to empower women and children in the state.
The governor decried the prevalence of FGM in the state, saying that it affected a significant number of the population, the women.
He said that FGM must be eliminated with utmost vigour.
According to him, FGM is still practised because it is considered as a family honour and an essential initiation to womanhood.
He regretted that some people still believed that FGM ensured virginity, protected female chastity and curbed promiscuity.
Ambode said: “All these reasons are wrong; we need to protect our women. FGM is cruel, criminal, inhuman and degrading to the female gender.
“It is dangerous and harmful to the health of women.
“It is a global problem, as it violates the rights of young girls and women to health, security and physical integrity and, occasionally, to life; it does not have any health or social benefits.”
Ambode said that collaboration was ongoing between the state government and relevant organisations, community and religious leaders to stop FGM in the state.
He added that there had been intensified community awareness and education programmes to stop the practice.
He said: “My administration will do everything possible to eliminate this act, and to this end, I declare that FGM must never be performed in Lagos State, so that together we can achieve a zero tolerance for FGM.”
The Wife of the Oyo State Governor, Florence Ajimobi, decried high rate of the practice of FGM in the South-West in spite of the geopolitical zone’s high literacy rate.
Ajimobi said: “We all need to rise up and support government to bring this menace to an end because government alone cannot do it.
“All hands must be on deck to restore the pride and dignity of womanhood.”
In his goodwill message, Beatrice Mutali, the Deputy Regional Director of the United Nations Population Population Fund, said that FGM was a barbaric act that must be stopped.
Mutali, who was represented by Dr. Omolaso Omosehin, said that it did not add any value to the girl-child and had reproductive complications to women, especially during childbirth.
She urged state governments to push for laws to prohibit FGM as well as to prescribe penalties for defaulters.
The Oba of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotoba, said that FGM was condemnable.
Shotoba pledged the support of traditional rulers and community leaders to eliminate the practice.
In her remarks, the Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Bolanle Ambode, said that Nigeria remained one of the African countries with the highest FGM prevalence.
Bolanle said: “This is why this meeting is essential, so that we can fashion better ways to put an end to this gruesome act that has been violating the rights of our women and girls.”