The editor of Dr. Sylvia Blyden’s Awareness Times newspaper, Abdul Malik Bangura, has been misinforming the public that the Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs made a very good case for protecting FGM against children under 18 in the country accused the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare of supporting an end to FGM.
Awareness Times alleged that the Geneva-based United Nations Commission on the Rights of the Child in September heard a six hours presentation by Dr. Blyden of the government’s position on ‘Bondo’ and FGM.
Abdul Malik Bangura maliciously lied that the UN body has after deliberation appreciated Dr. Blyden’s decision to include Sowei FGM practitioners in the government’s effort to protect girls.
According to Abdul Malik Bangura, “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.”
The truth of the matter is that, in recognition of the Sustainable Development Goals on eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including sexual and other types of exploitation, the Committee urges the State party (the Government of Sierra Leone) to legislate against Harmful practices.
Section 22 states that: Despite the huge success of the Government’s efforts to include female genital mutilation (FGM) practitioners in the fight against submitting children to FGM, the Committee is seriously concerned that:
(a) FGM is still practiced even if explicitly prohibited in law for children;
(b) Although the minimum age for marriage is set at 18 years, the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act of 2007 allows for exceptions and child marriage, especially of girls, remains highly prevalent in the State party.
23. In the light of its general comment No.18 on harmful practices (2014), adopted jointly with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Committee urges the State party to:
(a) Continue its fight with the assistance of former female FGM practitioners to eradicate the practice of female genital mutilation on children country wide;
(b) Accelerate efforts and programmes to sensitize and assist practitioners of FGM to find alternative sources of income and encourage them to abandon the practice; (c) Take concrete and consistent measures, including the harmonisation of laws, to prevent and eliminate child marriage and undertake comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns on the negative consequences of child marriage on girls. The committee called for the implementation of the MSWGCA’s strategic plan.
Anti FGM campaigners have always worked with soweis in their effort to educate them for alternative right. Therefore the issue of working with soweis to end FGM is not new.
The former minister, Moijueh Kai Kai make soweis his priority.
Hon.Moijueh worked with Amnet Country Director, Madam Hawa Samai in so many projects just to sensitise soweis to keep to their promise of no “Pekin” bondo.
However, the child bondo is on the increase. After reading the report from Geneva, i can authoritatively say that UN has not endorse the strategy on “Pekin” Bondo but urge the Sierra Leone Government to work with communities to End FGM.
I am sure the UN will never change it stands just to please Dr. Sylvia Blyden the current Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs.