FAHP Condemns FGM

By Stephen V. Lansana

The FGM Initiation dance

Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP), a coalition of civil society organizations, has condemned under-aged female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country.

The statement of the coalition came following the death of Fatmata Turay, 19, a senior secondary school pupil, on August 12, 2016 in an initiation bush in Makeni.

According to the Sierra Leone 2013 Demographic and Health Survey, 90% of Sierra Leonean women are circumcised. “This is one of the highest rates seen in West Africa.”

The report indicates that female circumcision is most common among least educated women and those from the poorest households. “Only 77% of women with secondary or higher education are circumcized, compared to 97% of those with no education. Thirty percent of women report that they were circumcised before the age of 10. Forty percent were circumcised between the ages of 10 and 14, the remaining 23% were circumcised after age 15.

Salamatu M. Kamara, Chairperson of Forum Against Harmful Practices, told a news conference in Freetown on Wednesday that they are not condemning the Bondo society because it is a big organization which has a lot more significant activities that supersede mutilation.

She emphasized that they are condemning that small aspect of the Bondo society, which is the “cutting or mutilation aspect”.

“For us, we don`t consider the cutting of the clitoris to be the only thing, there are other aspects like dancing, which are very good.

She highlighted seven negative effects of FMG on women and girls.

She said women who are circumcised will have complication during child bearing, adding that the process of giving birth requires a lot of contraction. She also said that if a woman has been cut, the clitoris will be flat and it cannot expand and contrast. This she said will lead to complications.

She also said that during the cutting of the clitoris, there will be excessive bleeding. She noted that some people bleed to death. She further stated that the cutting reduces the sexual urge of a woman, which may lead to her losing the kind of feeling a woman gets from her spouse.

She also said that it has a lot of economic implication. “It also reduces the number of educated girl, because immediately after the initiation, a girl will be ready for marriage. “We also looked at it as a human rights violation and abuse because if you can look at a small girl and cut her clitoris, this is really inhuman. The negative health implications are paramount,” She added.

Aminata Koroma, Secretary of FAHP, said that government is focusing on the age of consent of the initiates. She asserted that most of the girls initiated are children who have not reached the age of consent.

She pointed out that Bondo society is not a livelihood of women, because during the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the country, women were engaged in other activities.

The FAHP is a coalition of over 20 civil society organizations (national and international) whose primary focus is to reduce incidence of harmful traditional practices that are affecting girls and young women in Sierra Leone.