On World AIDS Day, Friday December 1, 2023, the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM) called upon the Health Ministry to incorporate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) into its comprehensive programs. AIM highlights the undeniable link between FGM and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, emphasizing the urgent need for action to protect thousands of women and girls.
Health experts have long established that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through the piercing of body tissues and blood transfusion from infected individuals. Disturbingly, this parallels the initiation of women and girls into secretive societies where FGM is practiced, creating a perilous breeding ground for the spread of HIV/AIDS.
AIM, a prominent advocate for ending FGM in Sierra Leone, proposes a solution: the introduction of a bloodless rite of passage. This innovative approach allows women to undergo the traditional Bondo or Sande rituals without piercing or bloodshed. The organization urges Government agencies to embrace this “Alternative Rite” to mitigate not only HIV/AIDS but also infant mortality, early marriage, school dropout rates, and other societal challenges impeding women’s empowerment.
According to the Movement, studies consistently reveal the profound, lifelong physical, psychological, and sexual trauma resulting from FGM adding that immediate consequences include excruciating pain and life-threatening blood loss, with a heightened risk of HIV/AIDS or hepatitis transmission when multiple individuals share the same cutting tools. It continued that long-term effects encompass chronic pain, infections, incontinence, and sexual dysfunction, perpetuating a cycle of suffering.
Reflecting on historical practices, AIM says it’s evident that our predecessors endured ailments without understanding their causes, often attributing deaths to supernatural forces. It highlighted that today, scientific advancements demand a reevaluation of traditions endangering health adding how medical scrutiny has exposed the hazards of removing crucial healthy tissues, challenging the preservation of outdated customs.
It urges that as culture evolves, so should our attitudes toward practices condemned by the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on individuals to reject the cutting of women and girls’ clitorises in the name of obsolete cultural norms.
AIM concludes that championing the cause to end FGM and promoting bloodless rites is pivotal in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls.
“Let rationality and common sense guide us toward safeguarding the well-being of future generations,” the Movement admonished.