Rugiatu Neneh Turay Advocates for Change in FGM at Rwanda Conference

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

During a conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, titled “Catalyzing and Globalizing Actions to End FGM Conference”, which brought together  donors and grassroots activists from five continents to discuss strategies for eradicating Female Genital Mutilation  (FGM) globally, the erudite Country Director of the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM-SL) in Sierra Leone, Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay, served as the keynote speaker.
In her address on the impact of grassroots movements in ending FGM, Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay highlighted the negative health, social, economic, psychological, and environmental consequences of the harmful practice which targets women and girls. She expressed concern about the lack of awareness regarding its harmful effects and emphasized the conference’s goal of promoting common objectives among countries across continents to hold duty bearers accountable for protecting women and girls and ultimately ending FGM.

Madam Turay also shed light on the spiritual and cultural aspects associated with FGM, explaining that the practice instills fear and maintains its status quo through intimidation. She addressed prevailing myths surrounding FGM, such as the belief that it prepares girls for adulthood, womanhood, and marriage, or that it preserves their virginity and also debunked misconceptions that regard the removal of certain female genital parts as a means to beautify or purify them.

Highlighting the work of AIM-SL and the Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP), Madam Turay emphasized their commitment to a culturally sensitive approach and a united campaign message with the objective of zero tolerance for FGM. She commended the organizers for the informative and beneficial conference, stating that it would empower numerous countries striving for zero tolerance on FGM.

Madam Turay called on campaigners at the conference to break the vicious cycles of FGM and protect the rights of women and girls worldwide. She also criticized politicians who exploit FGM for electoral gains, urging them to prioritize building schools rather than supporting FGM initiation practices. Moreover, she encouraged women in different continents to embrace alternative rites of passage for girls, citing Sierra Leone’s successful implementation of Bondo initiation without bloodshed. She further advocated for the relocation of the Bondo society to natural settings and the cultivation of a sense of ownership among women in reclaiming their society.

She ended by encouraging participants to disseminate the knowledge gained from the conference to their respective continents and communities, leveraging the opportunity to effect positive change in the fight against FGM.


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