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FGM activists threaten victims

FGM activists threaten victims

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) remains widely practiced in Sierra Leone in spite of frantic efforts made by NGOs and human rights activists to eliminate the scourge because of its dreadful consequences.

The secret society which practices FGM in the country has grown so powerful in the name of tradition that it is very difficult, if not totally impossible, for victims to have their complaints heard anywhere.As a result of this, individuals targeted for initiation have no option but to flee the country since the society is so small and their members constantly liase with each other are found in every nook and cranny.

This exactly is the situation in which Aminata (not her real name) finds herself. While on a visit to her hometown in Koya chiefdom last week, she was approached by her grandmother, a sowei (initiator) in the Bondo society ,requesting her to take over as head of the society(as required by tradition) or risk putting her life in danger.

According to the laws of the secret society, anyone handling their mantle of leadership should at the time neither be pregnant nor a caring mother to allow her dedicate all her time to the cause.

Beside the human rights violation aspect, Aminata happens to be a mother of a child she loves so much and takes great care of. In this vein, she out rightly rejected the proposition thereby incurring the wrath of her relative and members of the Bondo society who vowed to make her pay the ultimate price anytime she crosses their path for dragging their tradition into disrepute.

Aminata had to be smuggled out of the town in the middle of the night by young people sympathetic to her and left the country a couple of days later, well before her schedule departure, for fear of being attacked.

Several young ladies have been subjected to similar hassle in various parts of the country with authorities doing very little or nothing at all to adequately address the issue.

NGOs and human rights activists too have achieved very little in this direction because of lack of support from government, mainly due to political reasons. So the problem continues unabated.

Isata Mansaray, Freetown

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