MenEngage Africa joins a growing number of civil society organisations and anti-FGM activists in urging Sierra Leone’s government to criminalise FGM and protect women and girls from this damaging practice.
Maseray Sei, 21, died after acute haemorrhage and shock a day after being subjected to FGM on December 20, 2021, according to a post-mortem performed on January 14. A few days after Maseray’s death, a 15-year-old girl was brought to a hospital for emergency care after suffering major complications from FGM.
The cutter accused of killing Maseray Sei in December 2022 appeared in the High Court on August 3rd, marking her third appearance in the case. According to the Global Media Campaign, the Bondo Society sent officials to court wearing traditional white headscarves, and anti-FGM activists accused them of intimidating witnesses.
Maseray Sei’s death is one of far too many who have died at the hands of cutters or after having FGM performed on them. Unfortunately, due to intimidation and fear of repercussions, the community usually sweeps these occurrences under the rug. Women and girls continue to be victims of such horrible abuses as the silencing continues.
We strongly condemn these actions and urge the international community to continue to demand an end to this heinous violation of human rights. Furthermore, MenEngageAfrica is particularly concerned about the psychological pain that the family of Meseray and campaigners working on this case may experience. It is critical that justice is served and seen to be served in order to serve as a disincentive to others.
According to the 2019 Demographic Health Survey, Sierra Leone has one of the highest FGM prevalence rates in Africa, with 83 percent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 having had the surgery. MenEngage Africa is deeply concerned about Sierra Leone’s government’s unwillingness to commit to a comprehensive national plan. FGM is a transgression of both the Saleema Initiative and the African Union Initiative to eradicate female genital mutilation.
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a member of the African Union Commission(AU) which has committed to ending FGM and is guided by Agenda 2063 in advancing the agenda to end female genital mutilation, which under aspiration 6, priority 6.1.2, calls for the “eradication of all forms of gender-based-violence… including female genital mutilation”.
The Saleema Initiative of the African Union aims to galvanise political commitment and speed action across Africa to achieve zero female genital mutilation occurrences by 2030. However, Sierra Leone has not been clear in its commitment to eradicating all kinds of FGM. We demand that the government follow the lead of nations such as Kenya, Cameroon and Tanzania in prohibiting FGM and putting severe measures in place to make those who practise the horrible crime accountable. Although this does not completely end FGM, it does hold people accountable for their conduct.
Moreover, Sierra Leone has failed to adhere to the agreement reached at the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW/C/SLE/CO/5). Therefore, MenEngage Africa, joins anti-FGM campaigners in making demands for action as made at the convection:
- State’s party to enact legislation prohibiting female genital mutilation as soon as possible and to ensure that offenders are prosecuted and adequately punished.
- State’s to further up its awareness-raising and educational efforts, aimed at both men and women, with the cooperation of civil society, in order to eradicate female genital mutilation and its cultural reasons.
- To develop programmes to provide alternative forms of income for persons who perform female genital mutilation for a living.
- Urging that the state party investigate the relationship between female genital mutilation and the prevalence of vescicovaginal fistula, take measures to decrease the occurrence of vescicovaginal fistula, and give medical assistance to those affected by it.
- MenEngage urges all major stakeholders to begin naming and shaming alleged FGM perpetrators.
- Protection for anti-FGM activists and witnesses in the case.
- MenEngage Africa calls for the timely court proceedings an those guilty for this young woman’s unfortunate death as a result of FGM be convicted as soon as possible.
- The media to call out politicians who continue to promote the practice.
For more information or interviews contact
Mabel Sengendo Nabaggala, Regional Programs co- Unit Manager, Sonke Gender Justice, Secretariat of MenEngage Africa Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamba David, Executive Director Men’s Association for Gender Equality, Secretariat of MenEngage Sierra Leone: email@example.com, Cell: +232 76 757194