Female MPs strongly oppose elimination of ‘Bondo’

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By Jariatu S. Bangura

Female MPs have expressed strong opposition to eliminating the traditional Bondo, a secret in Sierra Leone linked to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Some of the Parliamentary Female Caucus registered their disagreement on the elimination of Bond during an engagement with Dr. Isata Mahoi, the Minister of Gender and Children’s Affairs regarding the proposed Child Rights Bill, 2024.

The debate highlights tension between traditional practices and modern legislative efforts to protect children’s rights.

Hon. Emilia Lolloh Tongi of the Sierra Leone People’s Party voiced her discontent with the anti-FGM provision, asserting, “Foreigners can’t tell us that Bondo is harmful. We can improve, but I won’t support it elimination.”

The debate was part of ongoing consultations on children’s rights across the country.

Dr. Mahoi emphasized that the engagement with female MPs is a crucial step in advancing the bill to Parliament.

She explained that the meeting follows previous discussions with the Legislative and Gender Committees in Parliament and regional consultations on the bill, incorporating feedback from grassroots communities.

Dr. Mahoi highlighted that female MPs, due to their close relationships with children, have a deeper understanding of their struggles and can advocate more effectively for their rights.

Dr. Mahoi stressed the importance of women’s voices in the legislative process to ensure the bill’s passage. She reiterated the government’s stance on female genital mutilation (FGM), stating that any procedure involving children below the age of eighteen without their consent would result in legal consequences.

She emphasized that delaying the age of consent is crucial to protecting children’s rights.

Addressing the issue of street children and child labor, Dr. Mahoi noted that the new bill aims to tackle these challenges and find effective solutions.

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