By Nosa Akenzua
The Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), on Monday, expressed their fear over increasing cases of the use of girls and women for rituals in Delta state, among others in the recent times.
The association said it had begun moves to persuade the federal government on the need for the establishment of a national taskforce for the protection of the girl-child, according to its national president, Dr Minnie Oseji. Oseji, who spoke to journalists in Asaba, said statistics had shown that an estimated 140 million girls and women, worldwide, currently lived with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM) which, according to her, is a harmful procedure undertaken for nonmedical reasons and internationally recognised as a violation of human rights.
Oseji noted that there had been a ploy by ritualists who motivate persons to commit heinous acts, including sexual abuse of minors, in a bid to get rich quickly or meet some other desires, disclosing that the medical association had received three cases of FGM involving a newborn, a five-month-old and a six-year-old, all in the last 12 months. She said this showed a situation that had also shown that women doctors or females were dangerously exposed to sudden death. She said that statistics had also shown that many cases of ritual activities had been carried out in Delta state, among others, adding that there had been grisly practice of FGM in some cultures across the country and the malevolent tendencies of ritualists.
Dr Oseji, therefore, called for the establishment of a national task force on elimination of violence against women and girls occurring through ritual activities in Nigeria, adding that “All stakeholders, both governmental and nongovernmental, should, as a matter of urgency, engage our traditional institutions to put in measures to eliminate this harmful traditional practice as well as discourage the practice of ritualists in their communities.” The association, therefore, referred to the Delta state law to eliminate violence in private and public life and prohibit all forms of violence against persons signed in 2020 which stipulated that perpetrators of circumcision and rituals would be jailed for 10 years and above.