NIGERIA: Female Genital Mutilation Spreads HIV-Aids - Iyabo Obasanjo
The mutilation of female genital has in no small measure helped in spreading the deadly HIV/AIDS virus, the chairman, Senate House Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello, has said.
Speaking at a two-day seminar on female genital mutilation cutting and achieving MDGs 4, 5 and 6 organized by AQUIRE fistula care project, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo said the virus is easily spread when groups of teenage girls are mutilated.
She explained that since most female genital mutilation are carried out by traditional medicine men and traditional birth attendants who have no knowledge of sterilization and the basics of disease prevention, an instrument that is used on an infected girl may again be used on other girls which will aid the spread of the virus.
According to her, curbing FGM will eliminate a potential source of spread of HIV, adding that ending it will aid in achieving the MDGs. Her words, "We must shine the light on this hidden ritual and talk about it openly. We must understand the thinking of the perpetuators and try and enlighten them by debunking each of their reasons for continuing with this outdated and unnecessary custom.
Reasons usually given for continuing the tradition include preventing promiscuity, genital cleanliness, to safeguard virginity as well as for curing illnesses."
She added, " why each of the reasons is illogical must be explained and the dangers associated with the practice must also be explained. Preventing FGM through education and enlightenment must become part of primary health care delivery."
Earlier, the Ambassador of Vesico-Virginal Fistula, Nollywood actress, Stephanie Okereke, called for a collaboration between the film industry and health stakeholders to create awareness against child- marriages and under-age childbearing.
She said, "VVF as a major threat to healthy and fulfilling womanhood in many parts of Nigeria does not deserve to accompany us to the future. It is a menace that should be curbed and cast into the abyss of history."
Speaking, the director of ACQUIRE Fistula Care project, Iyeme Efem, said the seminar was organized to contribute to the ongoing global discussion on female genital cutting as a factor in the realization of MDG's 3,4,5 and 6.
Meanwhile, in a communiqué signed by the stakeholders at the end of the meeting, they called on the government to enact laws that will stop all sort of violence and abuse against women. Other recommendations include making female genital cutting a public health problem in the country.
Since according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey su2008, 30 percent of females in Nigeria have suffered one form of genital cutting in almost all the states.
AUTHOR: Ruby Leo
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