The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says over 309 communities in Nigeria have publicly declared their abandonment of female genital mutilation in 2018.
The UNICEF Country representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall, made the disclosure on Wednesday in Abuja to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), marked every February 6 yearly.
He noted that 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) showed some decline in the incidence of FGM in the country.
He said that based on the survey 18.4 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 years now undergo FGM as against 27 per cent in 2011.
"UNICEF and partners' interventions to ensure the elimination of FGM by 2030 has resulted in a break in the barrier against discussing FGM publicly.
"Religious leaders, community stakeholders and young people now speak out against this practice.
"Subsequently, last year, more than 309 communities publicly declared abandonment of the practice.
"Despite this decline, millions of girls and women are still faced with the scourge of genital mutilation every year in Nigeria.
"There is, therefore, an urgent need for decision makers and political leaders to take concrete action towards ending the harmful practice of FGM in Nigeria," Fall said in a statement.
He identified FGM as a violation of women's rights to sexual and reproductive health, physical integrity, non-discrimination and freedom from cruel or degrading treatment.
According to him, it is also a violation of medical ethics and a form of gender-based violence.
According to Wikipedia, the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a UN sponsored annual awareness day to eradicate FGM. (NAN)