From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Bondo Women Chase Human Rights Defender...
By Ansu Bee.
Jun 8, 2010, 17:00

 Human Rights organizations in Sierra Leone have become voluble in condemning female genital mutilation, with Director of Foundation for Democratic Initiatives, Hindowa Emmanuel Saidu, himself recently chased by Bondo women in Bo. He has now isolated FGM issue as his organization’s focus in fighting social justice. FDID has thus established a data base on FGM human rights abuses dating as far back as 1997. Contact address for the recording of forced initiation is fididsl@gmail.com


The specific case of Augusta Tenneh Pessima formerly of Juba Hill in Freetown has been cited. As a native of Sumbuya, in the Bo District, Augusta Pessima was coerced by a family member to be initiated in the Bondo society as a price for her mother’s inheritance of the traditional ‘Sowei’ title.


Augusta is said to have resisted the proposal and she fled during the long vacation, the time scheduled for the proposed rite. She since escaped and news about her was that she was hiding in Banjul. Family source say the manhunt for continues or she is considered an outcast.Foundation for Democratic Initiatives is responding to the barrage of similar newspaper publications on the subject matter.


According to Hindowa Emmanuel Saidu, “we are calling on all victims to come forward with their complaints of force initiation as it is illegal to subject anybody under the age of 18 to harmful treatment, including any cultural practice that dehumanizes or is injurious to the physical and mental welfare of the child...”


Hindowa Saidu disclosed that on 28th May he encountered a group of 30 women at a stream in a neighbourhood of Fulawan in the city of Bo.”...I realized they were a group of women trying to bathe some nine children who were already naked... As if my presence tormented them, they tried to get to me but I knew what was coming so I quickly took to my heels...”


Other instances captured in the FDID data base include the February 2009 parading naked of UN radio female journalist in Kenema, east of Sierra Leone; in September 2009 a 17 year old girl and her aunt of Kossoh Town in Freetown fled because people threatened to lynch them for talking Bondo on radio; and in December 2009 at Dwazark Farm in Freetown another 17 year old girl was paraded naked...”FDID has condemned the official reticent on the FGM “...even as dozens are mutilated every month in this country...”



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