By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM), with support from Piefferminz Green, BMZ, has on Monday July 24 embarked on public declarations to drop the knife and razor in order to promote the Bondo culture as well as to protect girls and women’s health at Rothumba Community in the Koya Chiefdom, Port Loko District. Such a move was geared towards the promotion of bloodless rites and to eradicate female genital mutilation.
In her capacity as Chairperson and Executive Director of AIM, renowned anti-FGM Campaigner, Rugiatu Neneh Turay – Koroma noted that women are often ostracized amidst all their rights and the frantic efforts by the Government to empower them.
She further underscored the fact that even though radical advocacy is fostered to bring change, yet most women still continue to take the backseats luring a patriarchal society. “Do you know that we now have the right to land ownership?” the renowned anti-FGM influencer emphatically asked emphasizing the need for an equal society.
On behalf of their communities, Rothumba Headman Alimamy Sesay and Rosengbeh Youth Leader applauded AIM and expressed their readiness to support the strides and initiatives of their founder and Executive Director who they named “Talk and Do” as a sign of appreciating her tireless efforts in the course to protect women and girls. “Our Madam is no stranger to us. We are proud of her because she walks the talks,” the community authorities said.
With traditional songs of praises followed by individual testimonies by girls, the reason to stop female circumcision was pinpointed. Young Initiates, Adama Justin and Asabe Christiana narrated how they successfully went through the Bondo without genital mutilation. “I must confess that the Bondo culture is nice but the cutting is really scary and dangerous,” noted Christiana who pleaded to the Soweis to stop the painful act.
Sampa Soko Bangura, one of the first FGM practitioners to initiate girls without cutting thanked the Amazonian Initiative Movement whilst sharing her experience in the work. According to her, the Sowei’s job is not a good thing to continue with. “I think the whole work is just a side hustle with no moral acceptance,” therefore, she said “it is good we stop spending resources in such horrible acts and invest in our children educationally”.
Other notable speakers, including the Social Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare – Port Loko also reiterated the same and appreciated AIM but specifically their Executive Director, for bringing womanhood to limelight.
“Government do not actually hate the Bondo tradition. It’s only that, there is need to uphold fundamental human rights,” he maintained. He further referenced an ongoing investigation of a case of a three month baby who died during the cutting process and discouraged the negative circumstances surrounding the practice. “On behalf of the Ministry, I urge you all to put such an act to a halt,” he cautioned.
Climaxing the occasion were public declarations, disarming knives and razors, handing over of Bondo regalia and other circumcision instrument and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by 60 FGM practitioners who eventually took 60 young women above age 19 for bloodless initiation into the Bondo Society.