FGM & Its Attendant Consequences… NaMEP To The Rescue

 

Despite the fact that Sierra Leone is a signatory to many treaties, conventions, declarations and instruments on human rights violations such as Gender Based Violence (GBV), unfortunately however, these international instruments are yet to be fully implemented or domesticated in Sierra Leone and therefore, the full protection of the rights of women and girls across the country remains a serious challenge.

Though there are national legislations on GBV, it must be noted that law enforcement agencies are seen to be somewhat silent on these issues and by extension, deprive women and girls their rights as stipulated by law.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) violates a number of recognized human rights laws enshrined in international, regional and local instruments which include freedom from gender discrimination, the right to life, liberty, security and the right not to be subjected to violence of any sort.

In adherence to these aforementioned signed international treaties and instruments Africa countries like Liberia, The Gambia, among others have abolished this loathsome practice of FGM for obvious reasons.

The unfortunate ordeal of 23-year Amie who hailed from Kenema District, East of Sierra Leone, clearly explains how the practice of FGM has reached an unprecedented level in the 21st century in which that poor girl was compelled, much against her wish, to escape from her homeland or risk forceful initiation into the widely abhorred ‘Bondo’ secret society that practices FGM.

Her Story: She was filed a law suit in a local court by her landlord for allegedly talking ill of the ‘Bondo’ secret society. To members of the said secret society, that is not just an abomination but a serious offence tantamount to a grave punishment which among other things, include, forceful initiation into the ‘Bondo’ society and the paying of exorbitant and unrealistic fine coupled with constant threat and intimidation on the victim.

As a result, poor Amie was, much against her wish, forced to flee her matrimonial home to a church, while in the Church, she became apprehensive that she would be pursued and as a result, left the church for a human rights organization that frowns at the practice of FGM. There again, she was pursued by the Bondo society members who demanded that she should be released to them for the planned initiation. Human rights officers however refused to hand her over to the ‘Sowes’ for fear that her rights would be violated, as according to them, they were investigating the matter.

The human rights officers in Kenema facilitated her escape to Freetown where she now stays with another human rights organization – National Movement for Emancipation and Progress (NaMEP) that agitates against the practice of FGM.

As it stands now, her rights to liberty and security has been trampled upon. She can no longer venture back to her homeland for fear that she would be captured and subsequently initiated.