The Director of Gender at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mr. Charles Vandy has yesterday May 18th 2017, spoken on government’s plans to protect girls from female circumcision also known as FGM. He was speaking whilst distancing the government from a publication in yesterday edition of New Citizen Newspaper.
Whilst making his statement during an interview with Awareness Times Newspaper, Mr. Vandy said, the position of Government is to implore traditional Bondo women leaders to “totally avoid” the initiation of girls below the age of 18 years into the Bondo society but the Government “does not stop adult women from choosing to be initiated”.
|Director of Gender, MSWGCA- Mr. Charles Vandy
Mr. Vandy said government has not banned Bondo neither has it banned circumcision which happens during initiation into Bondo. Rather, he said they are imploring Bondo women to practice the positive aspects of it. He said, the positive aspect of the Bondo practice include, not to initiate girls under the age of 18 years and also not to forcefully initiate women above the age of 18.
Mr. Vandy added that at the National level “Government has made tremendous effort in ensuring the advancement and promotion of women and girls rights” and this includes the rights of women to willingly be initiated into Bondo Society.
Director of Gender also further added that the Child Rights Act of Sierra Leone defines the age of child as 18 and therefore it is not permissible to initiate girls into secret society who are under 18 years. He therefore stated that the Government of Sierra Leone respects Bondo Society as one of the traditional institutions that contributes to the development of the country but that it wants the Bondo Society to respect a girl’s right to first reach the age of 18 years and make a choice.
He however said whilst women aged 18 years and above can be freely initiated into the Bondo Society if she so desires, no woman should be forced into Bondo.
The New Citizen Newspaper had reported that government has a National Strategy on FGM which is fighting to end even consenting adult women from doing circumcision of their bodies.
However, the Sierra Leone Government debunks the publication which was quoting one lady with a very foreign name and who is believed to be a UNICEF consultant on some kind of mischief making in the country that will produce social disorder in especially rural communities.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.