Deputy Gender Minister laments FGM prevalence in Sierra Leone


September 1, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has revealed that Sierra Leone is one of three countries in West Africa with the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) figures in the world, with a 88 percent prevalence among women aged 15-49, and 10 percent prevalence among girls aged 0-14 years.

According to Rugiatu Neneh Turay, FGM, which is done for traditional practices and none therapeutic reasons, can sometimes pose serious threat to the health of women and girls through psychosocial trauma, reproductive health issues, including adverse obstetric or prenatal outcomes.

She revealed that Pillar Eight in the government’s ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ document frowns at underage initiation or rites of passage for girls, which she said  was a commitment to international obligations already signed, including the Maputo Protocol.

“The Government is highly committed to attaining the highest possible standard of health for girls and women, particularly their sexual and reproductive health rights,” the Deputy Minister said.

She admonished everyone to play a key role in addressing issues of FGM affecting women and girls just as they did in ending the war and bringing the spread of the Ebola virus disease to an end last year.

Madam Turay maintained that her key mission was to empower women to become strong and self-reliant so that they are able to challenge abusive traditional practices like female genital cutting, done in the name of culture.

She noted that despite numerous death threats, she has over the years worked hard to persuade the soweis (initiators) to lay aside their knives and stop FGM.

Prior to her appointment as deputy minister, Madam Turay was a local heroin and FGM activist in Sierra Leone, who called for an end to abusive cultural practices.