The Ekiti government, determined to implement its “Drop the Blade initiative”, on Wednesday disbursed N42 million to 170 female circumcisers, who had abandoned the old tradition for other business ventures in the state.
Each of the circumcisers received N250,000 to invest in other businesses of their choice.
Speaking at the event, the wife of the state governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, said the money was given to the beneficiaries as a grant for investment in other ventures.
Mrs Fayemi said that the grant would not be refunded by the beneficiaries, indicating “we are empowering these women today so as to take them away from the illegal business.”
“If what they were gaining from female circumcision is what is preventing them from leaving the job, we are ready to empower them,” she said.
According to Mrs Fayemi, this will be the second time of empowering those engaging in female circumcision to discourage them from the old practice.
The governor’s wife expressed regret that the state was one of the top three states practising female genital mutilation (FGM), adding that all hands must be on deck to stop the menace.
Earlier, the commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Alhaja Mariam Ogunlade, reminded the beneficiaries that there are laws in place banning female circumcision, adding that anyone caught will be made to face legal action.
Odunlade, who reaffirmed government’s zero tolerance for FGM, called for stakeholders’ involvement in stamping out the practice in all communities across the State.
Also speaking, the Director-General, Micro Finance and Enterprise Development, Mr. Kayode Fasae, urged the beneficiaries of the grant not to engage in wasteful spending.
Stakeholders at the event in their various contributions, urged expectant mothers to always patronise government health facilities, adding that there is no benefit in female circumcision.
The high point of the event was the collection of blades, scissors, cotton wool and other instruments used for circumcision from the circumcisers.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Funmilayo Adedeji, thanked government for putting up such initiative to assist them, promising that they will shun the practice and never go back to it. (NAN)