FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM), which is popularly known as the Bondo society has been a tradition in Sierra Leone since the days of our forefathers and it was a taboo for men and those who have not entered it to openly discuss it until recently, when Human rights activists and Women’s Groups decided to nip in the bud and stop this age-old practice, but it is yielding no dividend as the initiators look at it as a trade that brings much respect to the initiators.
While the Sierra Leone government and the international community are fighting to eradicate FGM in the country, the initiators, who are mainly residents in the rural areas, have been desperate to maintain it at all cost under the guise of custom and they are of the conviction that every girl child above one year should be initiated. Therefore advocators were deemed as possible target throughout those villages.
One particular child rights anti-FGM activist, who suffered in the hands of initiators in Waterloo, Western Rural District of Freetown, Sierra Leone is Mariama Binta Sesay, who received several death threats subjected to ridicule since December last year.
Until her disappearance, Mariama Binta Sesay was staying at Waterloo township campaigning against FGM commonly known as Bondo in the Western Rural district, western area of Sierra Leone has never joined or been initiated from the bondo society. She was one of the few child rights anti-FGM activists in the capital Freetown that was very vibrant in the fight against FGM and played a pivotal role in providing option for initiators, who were ready to drop the act.
“I was harassed so many times when I was in Waterloo Township with most of these women hiring thugs to attack me whenever I’m alone and wanted to initiate me into the bondo society. This situation continues and sometime in late 2019, I was attacked by some youths and community elders and I had to escape to Conakry, Guinea, where I stayed and later to unknown destination,” Mariama Binta Sesay told this press at unknown destination.
However, on the 21st December last year, another attacked on Mariama Binta Sesay by some members of the bondo society across western area who were demanding that he stopped with immediate effect her role in interfering and talking about negative things about the bondo initiation.
Sources closed to the initiators revealed that Mariama Binta Sesay has exposed some parts of the rites to the general public and therefore needs to suffer immensely and declared wanted if seen.
“The only thing that can save her is if she is out of the country, the effect will be greater but if she is around, I’m afraid, she will definitely going to be killed or gone mad” Mammy Rukoh, one of the initiators said.
About a decade ago, the Sierra Leone government was pressured by the International Community and local Non-Governmental Organizations to sign the Women's Rights Protocol which condemns female genital mutilation globally. NGOs as well as International Non-Governmental Organizations are striving hard to fix this situation by creating awareness reasoning in some of these areas. This has made many women to refuse the tradition but family ties have always been the problem.
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