Health workers practice mutilation for selfish interest says EU, UNICEF

European Union and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Tuesday, said that health workers who are practising mutilation were doing that out of selfish interest and fear of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) taken over their jobs.

The international organizations disclosed this during sensitization program for traditional rulers of Afikpo south to eliminate female genital mutilation at Owutu Edda. The programme was organized by National Orientation Agency, NOA with the support from UNICEF.

Speaking at the event, Mrs Ngozi Roland Chukwuma, Gender  desk officer with the Ministry of Women Affairs Ebonyi state noted that health workers during a meeting with the ministry said most of them engaged into the practice out of selfishness and fear of being taken over by the TBAs.

Even as she noted that most of the health workers were ignorant of the fact that massaging was part of mutilation.

She said, “what they are disputing is that they have law on FGM, but they did not publicize it, to educate people on how to go about it.

“In a sensitization meeting we had with health officers in the state ministry of health, we asked them why they still engage in female genital mutilation practices, they told us it was selfish  interest, also they don’t  want the traditional birth attendance  to take over their  job, so that’s  why they continue  to help the community  to mutilate their children. 

“Massaging  is the type 4 or unclassified type of FGM, it is the prevalent because  some of them  said they have stopped  the cutting but engage in massaging. They use powder, ointment  and some of the said they don’t  know it is part of FGM/C , that they even go as far as teaching mothers to do that.

“These health workers came from health facilities in the state, they came for data collection in the state capital.

The chairman Afikpo south traditional ruler’s council, HRH Ezeogo Charles Azuenya noted with dismay that the council before now enacted law against FGM, but was surprised to hear that that the local government area was still rated red in the practice.

“I abhor FGM practice and I have tried to fight the crusade for a very long time during the early 20s, I decried  that especially  in my community  and I have made every effort  to do that at the local government  level with the traditional rulers, I have also done that with the female lawyers  also. And I take pains to see that anybody that is seen practicing that faces the law and I will intensify  that action because it is very primitive.

We made a bye law against  this FGM ,publicized it very long ago, we also let people know the consequences  of indulging into this practice, but we are surprised to hear this morning that Afikpo South  is running  red in this practice. I don’t  know where this is coming from, in this regard  we being to question  the health  workers in the local government “. Acknowledging what Azuenye said,

Hon. Wilfred  Onwumere, Deputy leader of Afikpo  South legislative Council said, “what we are  discussing  about is something  that is hidden, it is done in a hidden place and so it is difficult  to know who perpetrated the act without strong laws and it’s  enforcement. 

Now that we have enacted the law, we will ensure its enforcement .Now we will have to monitor child birth to 1 year, even during immunization to ensure this practice stops.

“I believe the problem here are the health officers,  because  the report they give to us is that all is well, so for this act to be prevalence in this  our community means they are only after money. But we are going to  put more effort to curb this practice”.

Meanwhile the state Director of National Orientation Agency, Dr Desmond Onwe said that according to UNICEF statistics Afikpo South was rated red filled by Ikwo local government of Ebonyi state.