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NEWS : Local News  

Sierra Leone News : Soweis from South East, North & West Cruise into Bombali
By Our Makeni Correspondent
Aug 17, 2016, 17:12
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The National Sowei Council of the Bondo Society, led by their Vice President Madam Elsie Kongolama and their Secretary General Madam Kharday Zorokong, have on Tuesday August 16th 2016, led a galaxy of their members from all over Sierra Leone into Bombali in order to assist the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs conduct a fact finding enquiry into the circumstances around the death of a new initiate into the Bondo Society. Over two dozen Soweis from Western Area, Northern, Southern and Eastern Provinces all flocked into Bombali.

 

It can be recalled that the National Sowei Council (NSC) recently announced to the Honourable Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs, that she should rest assured that Soweis will now be self-policing and at the fore of reporting any forceful initiation or under-aged initiation.

 

It is against this backdrop and to illustrate their sincerity that the Soweis have thronged into Makeni to investigate the death of 19 years old Fatmata Mustapha Turay, a schoolgirl who was just promoted to SSS-4 at Saint Joseph Senior Secondary School Makeni.


The late Fatmata is alleged to have died as a result of undergoing initiation into Bondo at Mabolleh Village, Bombali Sebora Chiefdom, Bombali District.

 

 

There are conflicting reports as to the circumstances that led to her death. Some allege that she bled to death following her circumcision inside the secret Bondo shrine whilst others allege she died at her house from being administered treatment by a nurse.

 

The said nurse and three of the Soweis who are alleged to have initiated her, are all in police custody. One of the detained Soweis is the Aunty of the dead lady.

 

 

The Police at Rogbaneh Family Support Unit Crime Office, lead by ASP Mathew Jabbie are currently investigating the matter.

 

Another issue being investigated by the Police is the age of the late Fatmata. The Police want to ascertain if indeed she had reached the age of consent as an adult.

 

 

Whilst Sierra Leone is yet to have a law specifically legislated just solely against the practise of female circumcision (also known as FGM), the National Sowei Council recently reiterated their signed MOU stating they will not initiate anyone against her will nor will they perform initiation on any one under the age of 18 years.


Hon. Minister Sylvia Blyden had also recently confirmed that the government will not hesitate to use laws against Child Cruelty against anyone caught initiating a girl under the age of 18 years.

 

 

Meanwhile, the Soweis led by Madam Zorokong were on the radio airwaves last evening vehemently reiterating their opposition to any under-aged or forceful initiation whilst at the same time assuring their colleague Bombali Soweis to come out of hiding as the government was not hunting down Soweis.

 

There had been widespread rumours all over Bombali that the government had ordered the arrest of all Bondo women Soweis in the district. The arrival of the Sowei Council and their radio broadcasts helped to assuage the ill-feelings of government hunting down Soweis.

 

The National Sowei Council members also held meetings with senior government officials in the district. They also visited the family of the deceased as well as go on a visit inside the Bondo Shrine all as part of their investigations.

 

The Northern Region office of Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs is hosting the National Sowei Council during the investigation visit; with assistance of Partners.

 

The corpse of the late Fatmata is yet to have a post-mortem conducted on it. The Police say they can only hand over the corpse to the family for burial, after a post-mortem is first done on it.


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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