Pressure mounts on Govt. to reduce FGM

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January 7, 2018

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

The Forum Against Harmful Traditional Practices has called for the urgent approval of the national strategy to aid the reduction of female genital mutilation or cutting.

The renewed call by the forum was necessitated by the sudden death of one Mariatu Kamara, whose remains were found on December 18, 2018, in a female secret society bush (Bondo Bush)  at Gaindema Section, Yoni Mamaila Chiefdom in the Tonkolili District. She was allegedly killed during initiation into the Bondo society.

FAHP made several attempts to get the former Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, approve the document that was put together by stakeholders, but to no avail.

According to FAHP Deputy Chairperson, Aminata Koroma, the strategy will be pivotal in ensuring an end to the practice of female genital cutting by members of the Bondo society and that they will continue to call for the abandonment of female circumcision in the country.

“We will continue our call for an abandonment of female circumcision. We believe the cutting by the Bondo Society is out of place and the approval of the national strategy will be very important in our fight,” she said.

She assured of their readiness to engage the current Minister of Social Welfare, Madam Baindu Dassama, on the approval and subsequent implementation of the strategy, adding that they would also engage First Lady Fatima Bio on their campaign.

A member of the forum, Lucy Ann Ganda, said the bylaws prohibiting circumcision of girls under 18 years of age were not working, hence the need for the approval of the strategy.

“Whilst FAP recognises that the Bondo institution continues to play a very important social and cultural role in communities, it is critical that ways are found to strengthen the wholesome and necessary functions that Bondo can potentially fulfill without the harm of female circumcision,” she said.

She noted that Soweis must be included in discussions to change their opinions about female circumcision being necessary for Bondo initiation, adding that the enforcement of bylaws, where they exist, should be independently monitored.

Also, Salamatu Kamara explained that the strategy celebrates and upholds wholesome aspects of the Bondo institution and intends to keep elements of culture, ethnic identity, solidarity and training of girls, which are part of the society.

She added that the strategy recognises the leadership role played by Soweis in the community, as well as the status and power they command.