By Theophilia Leigh
A renowned gender activist in Sierra Leone, Ann-Marie Caulker, has told young people to speak up against female genital mutilation in their communities.
She made this remark while addressing rights activists, youth groups and journalists during a ceremony held to commemorate the international day of zero tolerance for female genital mutilation in Freetown. The program was organized by the Men’s Association for Gender Equality (MAGE – SL) and the National Movement for Emancipation and Progress (NaMEP).
Mrs. Caulker said that girls who undergo female genital mutilation suffer excessive bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, and other severe health complications. She maintained that these issues have long-term consequences for their sexual and reproductive health.
She stated that the Bondo society is a good tradition that used to give informal education on good parenting to women and girls but the aspect of cutting their clitoris as a rite of passage to womanhood is a harmful practice universally recognized as a human rights violation.
“This type of initiation must stop!” She exclaimed.
She said that the campaign against FGM has not produced the desired outcome because of the lack of effective collaboration between various groups and partners.
She mentioned that the conflicting messages put out by various groups have derailed progress in their fight against harmful traditional practices and therefore called for a renewed partnership and collaboration among advocacy groups to advocate on ending FGM in Sierra Leone.
Other speakers from MAGE, gender activists and religious leaders made collective statements calling for a ban on female genital cutting in Sierra Leone.