October 12, 2017 By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Defence for Children International (DCI) has yesterday, in recognition of International Day of the Girl Child, called on politicians in Sierra Leone to immediately refrain from supporting the initiation of young girls into the ‘’Bondo secrete society’ ’as a strategy to attract and gain popularity.
According to a press release from the institution, the presence of harmful gender norms and practices in the Sierra Leonean society continue to fuel acts of gender –based violence, including child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual violence, which DCI believes put girls at higher risk of early pregnancy, physical and mental suffering, social stigma and economic exclusion.
The press statement further said the perpetuation of all forms of discrimination and violence against children in all settings and particularly those based on gender, violates Sierra Leones obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC).
They said the act compromises the full and effective realization of the sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG goal 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls to which the government of Sierra Leone has committed.
“As Sierra Leone prepares for its presidential and parliamentary elections set for 7th March,2018,DCI-Sierra Leone is particularly concerned that some politicians failed to condemn the initiation of young girls through the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting into the bondo society as a way to gather support for their political campaigns.FGM is a serious abused of the children’s’ and should therefore be strongly condemned by politicians and political parties rather than being used as a tool to gain political popularity,” they noted.
The organization continued that such behaviour sends the wrong message and does little to ensure the commitment of the Sierra Leonean society as a whole to combat gender discrimination and violence.
They called on politicians to develop practical manifestoes reflective of Sierra Leone’s ambition for the 2013 agenda for sustainable development, in particular on measures to achieve SDG4 (achieving inclusive and equitable quality education for all), SDG5 (achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls) and SDG10 (reducing gender inequality and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all people irrespective of age, sex and disability).
The statement ended that the government of Sierra Lone should recognise the power of adolescent girl: vision 2030 for girls and completely protect the rights of girls against all forms of gender-based violence by condemning politicians that exploit young people, women and girls to gain political fame.