Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has urged residents to report cases of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other forms of gender-based violence to appropriate authorities in the state.
He asked the people to take advantage of the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Benin City, the state capital to lodge such complaints in order to tackle the menace of gender-based violence in Edo.
Governor Obaseki made the plea on Friday in commemoration of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day.
“As part of the Edo State government’s commitment to ending this practice that violates women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity, non-discrimination and freedom from cruel or degrading treatment, we established the Vivian Ogu Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Benin City to provide a one-stop free clinic for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence as well as the required care and support for girls,” he said.
The governor added, “With our basic education reforms, through our EdoBEST programme, we are also equipping girls in the state with a sound educational foundation.
“Education is a vital tool in addressing Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence, as it exposes the girl-child to information, new concepts, and encourages them to exchange ideas along with access to various sources of information and technology that foster social relations and developments.”
Governor Obaseki urged multilateral organisations and civil rights groups to complement the government’s effort by leading sensitisations to increase awareness aimed at discouraging cultures that allow female genital mutilation.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), marking the annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM in the context of COVID-19 is a timely reminder of the health sector’s vital role in ending the violation of girls’ and women’s health and human rights.
The health agency noted that from offering preventive services at the primary care level to ensuring the highest quality care possible for women and girls who have already undergone FGM, healthcare providers remained powerful agents for change and service in their communities.