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UNFPA decries female genital mutilation

08 October 2014, 19:57

Abuja - The United Nation Funds for Population Activities (UNFPA) has decried the practice of female genital mutilation across the country and call for action to protect adolescent girls rights and health.

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director, made the call in a statement on the forth coming International Day of the Girl Child.

The statement, which was made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, noted that the event was held annually on Oct. 11.

Osotimehin said that over 70 million young women between the ages of 20 to 24 in developing countries were married before the age of 18.

Also read: Female genital mutilation still rife in Africa

He, however, described the practice as depriving them of their health, education and autonomy, adding that its steals their hopes and dreams.

"We must take actions when three million girls, the majority of whom are younger than 15 years of age, undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) each and every year.

"This can increase their vulnerability to HIV and to complications during pregnancy and childbirth and in the worst cases result in maternal and newborn death.

"We say yes to education, empowerment and equality. Now is the time for action! We must take action when nearly one quarter of adolescent girls have been victims of physical violence since the age of 15.

"We must take action when one in three adolescent girls has suffered violence committed by her husband or her partner,’’ said the executive director.

Osotimehin said that the action was taken by the body to protect the health and rights of adolescent girls as comprehensive sexuality education through sexual and reproductive counselling, information, services and youth participation.

He noted that other efforts included working with boys in order for them to become the first male generation to neither perpetrate nor tolerate violence against women and girls.

According to him, over 12,700 communities in Africa had abandoned FGM through a joint programme by UNFPA and UNICEF.

He said that the efforts would lead to over three million girls growing up without the fear of such harmful practice.

"Development is not sustainable when adolescent girls live with the fear and the reality of violence.

"UNFPA will continue to work with governments, the United Nations system and civil society so that adolescent girls are empowered to claim their rights and are protected from violence.

"We will not stop until the world upholds the inherent rights of every girl child.

"If you change her life, you can change the world,’’ he said.

 - NAN

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