The ministry of Gender and children’s affairs and child protection agencies in their efforts to stop the harmful traditional practices especially Bondo (FGM) on girls below eighteen years which have grown viral, has partnered to created awareness to parents and caregivers on early reporting on such act when it’s occur to their children and communities.
The current advocacy drive has urged community members to take bold step to report to the appropriate authorities when incident of such occurs in their environs.
An alleged report of FGM initiation of two years old girl of malenkay village, mathonkara section, konike barina chiefdom, Tonkonlili district was reported to the family support unit Magburaka police division by the victim father Mr. Abass Koroma who demanded for immediate removal of his daughter from the societal bush which he alleged that his daughter was taken to the bush by one Sampa or sowie in the village without their consent thus leading to his decision for the action.
Upon receiving the said report, the Sierra Leone Police FSU unit in Magburaka, the ministry of Gender and children’s affairs, commit and Act Foundation Sierra Leone, Defend for children international and PAHTP members in Tonkonlili district traveled to the village at once.
Upon arrival at the village, a team of female police personnel and the district sowies leader went into the bush to search for the alleged victim.
After a rigorous search, the two years old girl was found in the societal bush and brought to the town and two suspects were arrested including the section sowie leader, victim grandmother, whiles Sampa conscious and others are on the run.
According to the lead investigator, Inspector Hannah Grace Sesay, she told this medium that the two years old girl is has been discharged from the Tonkolili Government Hospital and been referred to commit and Act safe home in Makeni while we continue with the investigation.
“The advocacy is tough but with togetherness, we can win the battle. F.G.M. has no benefits to our innocent girls. Why should we continue to keep it” said Hannah Bockarie, Country Director Commit and Act Foundation Sierra Leone.
After enormous awareness and public education on medical, psychological, educational and emotional effects of female genital mutilation (FGM) bondo society on girls below eighteen years in the country, other initiators are still in the habit of initiating innocent girls below age of consent.
Therefore, the sierra Leone police FSU unit, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and partner organizations will not relent to brought to book anyone found guilty of such crime in the country.
In July 2021, the Sierra Leone Parliamentary caucus on Female Genital Mutilation again met, with the support of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, to advance their vision of a nation where women and girls are free from all forms of FGM. Previous efforts at criminalization of the practice have not come to pass.
FGM initiation is more common among women with no education, younger women, and women in the lowest wealth category. The issue is not black and white streotype and interventions to end FGM need to focus on broader contextual and social norms.
On the 11th February 2022, Commit and Act foundation and partners against traditional harmful practices organized a round table discussion with fifty sowies from five chiefdoms in Bombali, Tonkolili and Bo district at Makeni City Hall to discuss on how they will initiate without cutting, the daylong meeting concluded with signing of communique by the sowies which they also requested that for them to lay down their weapons, the organization needs to support them with alternative livelihood.
Sierra Leone does not currently have any national law that explicitly prohibits and punishes FGM Practice. The practice takes place as part of the initiation ceremony into Bondo Society membership.
The Bondo Society is a secret society for women that has existed for hundreds of years and plays a major role in West Africa. It is an all women led and run group organized by ethnicity, with strong cultural and political values. The initiation ceremony publicly recognizes that a girl has become a woman in her community. FGM is the first act that is performed as part of the initiation ceremony.