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Female Genital Mutilation Can Be Stopped By Health Education - UNICEF.

On the occasion of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation celebrated on February 6, UNICEF emphasized the importance of continuing to educate girls and women about the negative consequences of FGM.

UNICEF highlighted that daughters of educated women were less likely to undergo FGM compared to those whose mothers were uneducated. Female genital mutilation, as defined by the World Health Organization, encompasses all procedures involving the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This practice poses severe health risks for girls and women, including bleeding, urinary problems, infections, complications during childbirth, and an increased risk of newborn deaths.

FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and is typically performed on minors by traditional practitioners, violating the rights of children. Shockingly, over 200 million girls and women in 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have undergone FGM. It is predominantly carried out on young girls under the age of 15.

According to a UNICEF report titled "Ending Female Genital Mutilation: Data that delivers change and results for girls and women," approximately 35% of girls aged zero to 14 in the Southeast region of Nigeria are affected by FGM, followed closely by 30% in the Southwest. Ekiti State accounts for nearly 24% of girls affected, while Oyo State has 21%.

Education is identified as a powerful tool to combat FGM. It increases awareness of its dangers, challenges societal norms, and provides opportunities for individuals to reject the practice. Educated women are less likely to subject their daughters to FGM, and educational settings can foster discussions and the formation of new ideas opposing the practice.

Celine Lafoucriere, Chief of UNICEF Lagos Office, stressed the need for more education, advocacy, and legal measures to combat FGM. Proper enlightenment and education can eradicate harmful traditions and ensure a brighter future for girls by respecting their rights and dignity.

UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Denis Onoise, emphasized the importance of holistic support for survivors of FGM, addressing their physical, psychological, and emotional needs, and empowering them to advocate for change.

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