‘Subjecting girls and women to FGM violates a number of rights’


 February 9, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone has stated that subjecting girls and women to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) violates a number of rights protected in international and regional instruments, as well as national laws.

According to Brima A. Sheriff, FGM reflects a deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and can be seen as extreme discrimination against women and girls.

He was speaking at the Miatta Conference hall on Monday (February 6) during an event organised by Forum against Harmful Practices to observe this year’s International Day of Zero Tolerance on FGM.

He said the commission has zero tolerance to FGM and campaign for its eradication, adding that the commission’s position reaffirmed the fact that FGM was a violation of the human rights of women and girls, which cannot be separated from deep-seated and pervasive discrimination against women.

He said their position on FGM has been reflected in almost all their reports on the State of Human Rights in Sierra Leone, adding, “We have a Zero tolerance to FGM and campaign for its eradication.”

“FGM is associated with  cultural ideas of feminity and modesty which include the notion that girls are ‘clean’ and ‘beautiful’ only after the removal of body parts that are considered ‘male’ or ‘unclean’. It guarantees premarital virginity and, since it is supposed to reduce a woman’s libido, helps her resist ‘illicit’ sex,” Commissioner Sheriff noted.

He stated that while the above explanations might broadly be interpreted to accommodate varying cultural views, and that it was clear that the practice violates the principles on what constitutes a child’s best interest and women’s rights.

Commissioner Sheriff added that FGM was a violation of children’s rights because it was commonly performed upon girls between the ages of four and twelve, who are not in a position to give informed consent.