Student Activist Life On The Line

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Hassan Momoh, founder and National Coordinator of Human Rights Mirror has escaped in the country over fear of his life.

Established in Njala University College campuses as an advocacy organisation, Human Rights Mirror have been very voiceferous in demanding for a ban of the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) popularly known as the Bondo Society.

Reports of confrontation between Human Rights activists, media practitioners and pioneers of the Bondo Society is not new in the country but the Government has kept sealed lips on either banning the practice or legislate a bill that regulate it across Sierra Leone.

Recently, on 20th of December 2018, reports on local and international media went viral of the death of a ten (10) years old girl who went through the Bondo Society as a cultural rite of passage.

Investigations mounted by our Reporter indicate that the child (name withheld), was one of 68 taken to perform the initiation but couldn’t survive as a result of profused bleeding.

Tonkolili District, about 150 miles North of the capital, Freetown was where the deceased child was reportedly initiated.

Despite recent warnings by the erstwhile Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Sylvia Olayinka Blyden that all iniations should be followed by a consent age yet some traditional leaders are secretly engaged in it as a money making trade.

This practice is more prominent in the northern province of the country.

The death of this child further spark a debate on social media and public transport. This further attracted Hassan Momoh to reactivate his call for a permanent ban of the practice.

“Momoh led a peaceful street protest and a candle light vigil in remembrance of the girl,” said Samuel Bangura, Public Relations Officer of Center for Media and Good Governance.

He informed that during the vigil, speeches were made by student leaders who encouraged parents and government functionaries to take a responsible approach in addressing the issue of FGM.

According to him, Momoh received a counter campaign and verbal threat from the traditional women leaders and their cohorts.

He claimed that Momoh received several threaten phone calls and text message accusing him of threatening the survival of the bondo society.

As an advocacy group, Bangura said they accompanied Momoh to report the matter to the police in Bo town but “we got an unpleasant feed back.”

The Police Constable said, “we don’t deal with bondo related matters except in extreme circumstances.”

On Saturday, 22nd December, 2018, Momoh got waylaid very close to his hostel at the Towama campus, said George Mattia a colleague of Momoh.

The physical attacked on Momoh, according to Mattia, “forced him to run for his life. No news of his whereabouts.”

Efforts to get reactions from the Secretary General, Kadie Zoroko, of the Bondo Traditional Women Leaders proved futile despite several calls and a text message.

Investigations on the matter continues.