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
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
"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
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