The Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) has tasked male residents in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State to kick against all forms of harmful traditional practices and early child marriage as part of efforts to curb the rising incidences of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in some Communities across the State.

Speaking at a Sensitisation and Advocacy Campaign programme against Female Genital Mutilation and Early Child Marriage held at Alaba-Rago and Alaworo Markets, the Permanent Secretary of WAPA, Mrs. Oluyemi Kalesanwo urged the residents to embrace change towards eliminating the menace that threatens the well-being and future of countless girls in the two communities.

She said, “Your communities are recognised as vibrant settlements where significant impact can be made on these issues deeply rooted in harmful traditions, cultural beliefs and social norms, which we want to put a total stop to”.

Kalesanwo, who was represented by the Director, Domestic Violence Unit, (WAPA), Ms. Olorunfemi Toyin, explained that Early Marriage robs young girls of their childhood, education and opportunities, thus perpetuating a cycle of poverty and illiteracy, just as it hampers life choices and requires a clarion call for total eradication of the practice.

She said, “We cannot allow our girls who are born and groomed here in Lagos State, to be forced into early marriage while still under 18 years of age. A stage, when they are not physically, mentally and emotionally ready to fully understand what marriage entails. Moreso, the T.H.E.M.E.S PLUS agenda of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, which focuses on gender equality and social inclusion, is averse to it”.

While recounting the adverse effects of Female Genital Mutilation, the Permanent Secretary reiterated that there is no medical nor scientific basis for the practice, but one that induces infections, difficulties in childbirth and long-term emotional trauma in victims.

Kalesanwo averred that the legal framework had been provided for charging perpetrators to four years imprisonment, hence, there is a need for a supportive environment in improving access to qualitative education, healthcare, gender equality and women empowerment strategies.

In her address, the Iyaloja Alaba-Rago, Alhaja Shukurat Jolaade Jimoh informed that rape within the community should be deliberately addressed, adding that the government should empower women while ensuring that rapists should be brought to book.

Mr. Oyetunji Rasaki, the Baba Oloja of Alaba-Rago Market implored Parents to continue to support their children and wards, especially girl-child, with the necessary knowledge and skills to enhance their moral values.