In an Open Letter…   FAHP Appeals to President Bio to Eliminate FGM from the Bondo Society

Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP).jpg

By Amin Kef Sesay

In an Open Letter  written by members of the Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP) addressed to His Excellency Rt Brig Julius Maada Bio and faithfully submitted by the Forum’s Chairperson, Rugiatu Neneh Turay Chairperson, they started by conveying Compliments of the Season and  wishing the President well in the New Year.

Stated also was that the Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP) is a coalition of 21 Civil Society Organizations across Sierra Leone, with the vision: A Sierra Leone that is free from all harmful practices especially Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).

Members continued that they would want to draw the President’s attention to the event of December 20th 2021 in Nyandehun village, Imperri Chiefdom, Bonthe District -that allegedly resulted in profuse bleeding and death of a 21 year old woman in the Bondo bush after her clitoris was gruesomely cut off by ‘Soweis’ all in the name of preserving our culture.

The Forum members continued that they are with the conviction that Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is not and should not be part of the country’s Bondo Society because, it is seen and experienced as a barbaric act that has untold suffering on women and girls.

“It is by extension an act of human right violation,” they highlighted adding how FGM/C practice is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and or with the minora and majora in most cases.

They continued how the World has called on countries where FGM/C is practiced to take action and put an end to it, because of its negative consequences on not only on women and girls but the damaging health effects on communities and nation as a whole.

Members of the forum in trying to make a gentle reminder stated that Sierra Leone is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Maputo Protocol underscoring how the Maputo Protocol has been passed in the House of Parliament by the previous Government with no reservations on the FGM clause.

It was indicated that women in Sierra Leone have suffered and continue to suffer, all in the name of culture preservation.

“The death of the 21-year-old Maseray Sei is another clear call on the Government to take action to end FGM/C,” they unequivocally stated adding how the incident has left Sierra Leoneans in shock and fear due to the rampant spate of FGM/C initiations in communities across Sierra Leone.

They said His Excellency must be informed that most of these FGM/C initiations are supported by elected and appointed citizens using that strategy as a campaign tool to get support from their electorates rather than investing in girl’s education to support the President’s vision on Free Quality Education.

Members told the President that the  Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP) is often misunderstood that they are against Bondo Society saying they are not.

“What we are against is the cutting of the female clitoris for nonmedical purpose,” they stated, maintaining how they believe and stand by the rite of passage as tradition demands but should be done without cutting of the clitoris.

They said they have piloted the rite of passage without cutting the clitoris in some districts and has worked out well, maintaining that is what they stand for and have started propagating.

“We are against the several health hazards and eventual deaths of women and girls who have suffered and continue to suffer quietly,” it was stated.

They maintained that FAHP and the women/girls of this country are pleading with him to salvage the situation, by putting an absolute abandonment to the FGM/C practice in Sierra Leone.

“We are happy for the ban you put on all secret societies during Covid-19,” they stated saying although the ban is still in place, Officials or Parliamentarians continue to support FGM/C activities thereby, sabotaging his proclamation which in itself is indiscipline to the highest degree.

They alleged that all other cultural practices abide to the ban but bondo and their perpetrators seems to be different stressing how women bodies should not continue to serve as political battle-grounds stating how in this 21st century FGM/C should have no place in our society.

“Let us join the other Africa Countries and the world at large by eliminating FGM/C and protect women in full,” Members of the Forum Against Harmful Practices concluded the Open Letter to President Julius Maada Bio.


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