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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

UN Endorses Strategy of Using Soweis to Protect Sierra Leone Girls but Deputy Minister goes on Facebook to Oppose Under-18 Policy and Calls for a Total Ban
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Oct 10, 2016, 12:16
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Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden: One of Sierra Leone's most productive & highly intelligent women has successfully pushed the Wisdom of the President's Strategy to the international community.
The decision by the APC-led Sierra Leone Government of President Koroma to include leaders of the female Bondo society in protecting Sierra Leone girls from undergoing female circumcision (FGM), has over the weekend past on October 7th 2016, received endorsement from the United Nations which has acknowledged the success of the government's continuous use of female FGM practitioners like Madam Kharday Zorokong in strong efforts to protect Sierra Leone girls.

 

The Geneva-based United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child three weeks ago in September, had Sierra Leone Gender & Children's Minister Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden face them in Geneva. Part of Blyden's six hours presentation to the UN Panel on the state of Sierra Leone children, was to highlight, with evidence of its efficacy, the position of the Koroma-led government in using actual leaders of the Bondo society who practise female circumcision to be the ones right at the forefront of the fight to protect the girls of Sierra Leone from FGM.


The UN Panel of Experts after deliberating extensively on the submissions of Hon. Dr. Blyden, has this past weekend, given their final observations on the Sierra Leone minister's presentation to them. The expert observations spanned many areas but in terms of harmful practices, it clearly appreciated the decision to include Sowei FGM practitioners like Madam Kharday Zorokong in the government's efforts to protect girls. It can be recalled that Blyden had traveled with Sowei Zorokong to Geneva where she had presented Zorokong to the United Nations.

 

The decision to take Zorokong to Geneva is now clearly seen as a very wise decision from one of the countryís most intelligent women. Indeed, whilst the UN panel restated the position of the United Nations that it was concerned over the practise of Sierra Leone women being subjected to FGM, it however acknowledged what it termed as, and we quote: "the huge success of Sierra Leone Government's efforts to include FGM practitioners in the fight against submitting children to FGM".

 

 

 

 

The acknowledgment of the "huge success" of the President's decision to include Soweis like Zorokong in the fight against 'Pikin Bondo' (Child FGM), has been a blow to the likes of opposition SLPP's Madam Yasmin Jusu-sheriff who had attacked the APC-led government in interviews to London newspapers that it was "inappropriate" to take a female leader of the Bondo society to a United Nations meeting on children despite the fact that the said female leader, Madam Kharday Zorokong, is one of the most vocal in fighting to protect Sierra Leone girl children from FGM.

 

The acknowledgment from Geneva of the APC-led government's "huge success" is also a psychological blow to the sitting deputy minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs Rugiatu Neneh Turay who had viciously attacked her immediate boss Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden as being "a disgrace to Sierra Leone as a country" for taking a Sowei to Geneva. Rugiatu Neneh Turay's insulting conduct had been ignored by her boss who is far more intelligent and far more matured than both Yasmin Jusu-Sheriff and Neneh Rugiatu Turay.

 

Speaking to this newspaper from America over the weekend, the highly intelligent female Cabinet Minister responsible for women and children, Hon. Dr. Blyden acknowledged the United Nation's commendation of the government's efforts as being "inspiring and gratifying of my efforts to implement a protection of all girls under the age of 18 years. I am inspired to now do even more. We must, I repeat, we must continue to push to protect our girls".

 

"This is a message to all concerned that protection of our girls should be priority, priority, priority in every African country," Hon. Blyden said adding, "It is a validation of President Koroma's uniquely progressive policy which pre-dates even my appointment. Although I made the case to Geneva, this is not my unique success. This success belongs to the President himself as I inherited this policy position. This commendation is of the President's policy and should inspire all women, Soweis or not, to come together and work even harder to protect our girls from being subjected to any more FGM in this country. I feel very proud right now to be one of those implementing the vision of our President to end child FGM also known as 'Pikin Bondo' in Sierra Leone".

 

In sharp contrast to the satisfaction expressed by Hon.

 

Dr. Blyden for the Geneva observations, her deputy minister, Madam Neneh Turay was seen in the last 24 hours, writing all over social media in a psychotic display attacking the official line of the government to concentrate on protecting girls under 18 years whilst leaving adult women to take a decision as to what they wish to do with their bodies. Madam Turay's comments that she posted this weekend within 8 to 9 hours of the UN Report being released from Geneva are published in this edition. The deputy minister's writings have shocked many who describe it to this newspaper as evidence of a woman who is now possibly psychologically unhinged.

 

Sierra Leoneans continue to raise eyebrows over the decision of Madam Neneh Turay to still be in office as deputy minister whilst publicly undertaking a total sabotage of government policy that she clearly does not believe in neither does she respect the President who appointed her. President Koroma is the one who actually is promoting the use of Bondo women Soweis in protecting Sierra Leone girls from FGM whilst the President respects adult women's choice. Gender Minister Hon. Blyden is merely implementing the direction of what the President wants. Why Madam Neneh Turay is allowed to continue to publicly sabotage the Presidentís policy on Bondo as she did this past weekend, remains a mystery to many observers as she is no longer a civil society activist but is now a sitting deputy minister of government.

 

"Her behaviour to go up against government policy will be perfectly endorsed by me if she was still a civil society activist but for a deputy minister to be doing this against government policy is just amazing," a retired judge told this newspaper on condition of anonymity.


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