A Sierra Leonean human rights activist currently based in Sydney, Australia, Magdalene Sambo Konneh, who has been advocating against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM),has called on the police and other authorities concerned to take punitive against the culprits who allegedly killed a two-year-old toddler during initiation into the Bondo Secret society.
On March 13th, Concord Times reported a case about a 2-year-old toddler, who was found dead in a female secret society bush (bondo bush) at Crossing Village, Waterloo, Western Rural District.
The discovery was made by Police Constable, David Aiah Sorie, who intercepted a secret procession of a bunch of female authorities belonging to the ‘Bondo Secret Society’.
According to the Waterloo Police, the soweis (Initiators) were about to secretly bury the child when Constable Sorie intercepted them.
He further said that the ring leaders of the secret society including the village headman, Alusine Fofanah, were in their custody assisting with investigations.
According to Magdalene, she was shocked to have read about the initiation of an underage girl after series of advocacies against the practice, especially the initiation of underage girls like the toddler who died while going through the painful process of cutting.
“The practice of the female secret society ( FGM) is getting out of hands and the initiation of girls involving the cutting of their gentile is not good for their health at all. To initiate a toddler who has no knowledge about making decision, speaks volume and it shows that we have not done much to get rid of this evil practice as a country,” she lamented.
She noted that, “We are still behind in the fight to minimise or eradicate this practice. A lot of time we have been talking about Bondo without cutting. We are not targeting Bondo society, but what we are saying is that let there be Bondo without cutting, let there be consent as Sierra Leone is a signatory to several international protocols that prohibit FGM.
She further cited a case in which another underage girl died of bleeding during initiation and that no punitive action has been taken against the perpetuators.
“As activists, we are calling on the government to take action in a situation like this. Government needs to come out with a clear statement on where they stand in such a situation. We know that years back, the government has signed MOU with organisations just to help minimise or eradicate this practice, so it is hard time the authorities start taking action against these initiators,” she said.
She expressed skepticism that the two culprits recently arrested in the wake of the death of the two-year-old toddler may be let off the hook and would not be tried by any court.
“The government needs to put laws in place that would punish these perpetrators, so we need actions, laws and other things that would show that yes we are fighting against the practise of FGM in Sierra Leone. I want to believe that if we start doing the right things people would stop initiating young girls into the Bondo secret society,” she concluded.
The arrest of the two female secret society members was made days after another operation was launched by the Waterloo Police Division where they arrested a bunch of ‘Poro’ secret Society members at Wallahi Village, Tombo in Western Rural District.
The men were arrested after one of the inductees fled the camp after being tortured. The man reported the matter to the police who later made the burst.
According to some residents in the district, the two incidents have left them in fear.
The two incidents are believed to be the first after a while in the District which is a few kilometers away from the capital, Freetown.
However, Bundo Secret Society is mainly practised by female and it involves the cutting of female genetile,a practice that has been widely condemned by right activists.