“FGM Has No Value”; Says WAVES Director.

By Dauda Musa Bangura…..

The Director of Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES) Sierra Leone, Hannah Fatmata Yambasu has said that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has no value in the society and therefore requires a collective action to put an end to it.

Pupils at the Commemoration of Zero Tolerance for FGM in Bo @CRC Hall, Kulanda Town.

She made this statement at a Debate Competition on the Topic ‘There is no Importance of Female Genital Mutilation: no matter how it is done ‘’, marking the   commemoration of the International Day on Zero Tolerance for Female Genital (FGM), which is an activity under the Project ‘Strengthening of School Girls clubs in Kakua Chiefdom towards movement building to help end FGM. It took place   at the Child Reintegration Centre in Bo on 6th February 2021.  The project is implemented by Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES) with support from Amplify Change.

Hannah Fatmata Yambasu, WAVES-SL Director

Madam Yambasu said that ‘’ I feel happy when I see the children speaking against FGM. We are not against ‘Bondo’ but the practice of FGM that has no value with tremendous negative changes in the initiation of girls when they do not reach the age of the adult”. She went on to say that her organization has even got a huge support  from the rural communities to end FGM.

The WAVES Director implored the parents to be role models to their girls in order to maximize their potentials.

A gender activist who is the Senior Social Services Officer for advancement of women in the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs in the Southern Region, Martha Feika called for a collective action in order to end Female Genital Mutilation.

Martha Feika, Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs Bo.

Madam Feika informed that Sierra Leone has joined in the commemoration of  Zero Tolenrance for FGM since five years ago, adding that this year’s theme is

‘’No time for global inaction: Unite, Fund and Act to end FGM. We need to take actions in our homes and communities to end FGM.’’

While debating in favor of the Motion from Team A , Nancy  Ruth Koroma  who is a pupil and best debater of the Queen of the Holy Rosary Secondary School in Bo, said that ‘’ FGM  makes them to drop out of school  and  while they are going through the initiation, they are  missing the knowledge acquired in the school ,and at the end of the day, in fact, “there is nothing like certificate to show case that you are a member” as compared to the school system. “FGM has health implications including complication in delivery and will lead to death. There should be a political will to end FGM because it is a bad practice.’’ She noted.

Samilia Kamara from Queen of the Holy Rosary Secondary School in Bo, Team B, who spoke against the motion said that’’ FGM is important as it is during the initiation they are taught the culture to respect elder and teach women how to take of their homes noting FGM makes the initiate to be a full woman. “I disagree with my colleague that FGM leads to death. People are not initiated into it but they are dying. How can you be a drop out when after the initiation there is man there waiting to marry me. Please let the Government encourage the practice.’’ The debater said.

Dr. Ronald Carshon Marsh, DMO Bo.

In his keynote address, the Bo District Medical Officer Ronald Carshon Marsh said that ‘’ the world has a target in terms of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 by the year 2030, which states that eliminating all harmful practices including FGM. The altering or injuring female genital organ for non-medical purposes is violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women.’’

He said that girls and women have suffered both short and long-term consequences including severe pain shock, excessive bleeding, infections and difficulty in passing urine. The instability of their mental health and problems associated with their sexual and reproductive health, are among the serious long-term consequences.

Dr. Marsh lauded WAVES for commemorating the day and that with collective action, FGM can also be eliminated to ensure social -economic advancement in the country.

The Project Officer of Strengthening of School Girls’ clubs in Kakua Chiefdom towards movement building to end FGM said that FGM, Lora Miatta Lahai, said that FGM is a sensitive issue and they have encountered huge challenges while mounting up campaign against it but they are always ready to face the challenge.

Lura Miatta Lahai, Project Officer WAVES-SL.

She said that they are working in seven communities in Bo and Kenema districts to implement the project with support from Amplify Change, adding that ‘’we have employed a lot of strategies to empower the women and girls to speak up against FGM , Sexual and gender base violence, Child marriage and other abuses, as we want them to maximize their potentials. The girls should be allowed to go through their education. ‘’

Earlier, the Communications Officer of WAVES-SL, Alusine Rogers told this medium that both women and men play a crucial role in abandoning FGM   and that no one should stay silent.

He added that WAVES is more committed than ever to their campaign against all forms of violence against women and girls. “We owe this to every women and girl at risk.’’ Mr. Rogers maintained.

Meaningful statements were made by partners working with WAVES to end FGM. They included the Sierra Leone Police, Commit and Act, Child Rights Coalition, Ministry of Education, Bo District Council and Religious Leaders who continue to pledge their unwavering support to  be networking with WAVES to end FGM.

A skit to end FGM climaxed the commemoration of the Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. (FGM).