The abduction and intimidation of four women journalists took place in the eastern city of Kenema on 6 February by members of a women’s secret society that practices female genital mutilation (FGM). (Reporters without Borders)One of the journalists was forced to walk naked through the city’s streets. “Such disgraceful behaviour worthy of a bygone age is very damaging to Sierra Leone’s image,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We urge the president to personally intervene in this case to ensure that the perpetrators receive an exemplary punishment. We also urge the minister of social welfare, gender and children’s affairs, Haja Musu Kandeh, to take note of this incident, which is very traumatic for all women in Sierra Leone.”
The four reporters – Manjama Balama-Samba of the United Nations radio and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), Henrietta Kpaka of the SLBS, Isha Jalloh of Eastern Radio and Jenneh Brima, also of Eastern Radio – were kidnapped on 6 February by members of Bondo, a secret society that practices FGM. The next day, their abductors forcibly undressed Balama-Samba and made her walk naked through the streets.
The following film was released by The Population Council in conjunction with the International Day Of Zero Tolerance To Female Genital Mutilation on February 6th.
–Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is the cutting, removal, and sometimes sewing up of external female genitalia for cultural or other nontherapeutic reasons. It can be performed as early as infancy and as late as age 30.
–Most women (80 percent) who undergo this procedure have most or all of their clitoris removed and some or all of the labia minora cut off as well.
–Another 15 percent of women undergo infibulation, the removal of part or all of the external genitalia and the stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening.
–An estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and more than 3 million girls are at risk for cutting each year on the African continent alone.
–Practitioners of FGM/C range from traditional healers who use crude instruments without anesthetics to trained providers in health care facilities.
–Health consequences differ according to the type and severity of the procedure performed.
Short-term difficulties include severe pain, shock, hemorrhage, urine retention, ulceration of the genital region, and injury to adjacent tissue. Hemorrhage and infection can cause death.
–Long-term consequences include psychological trauma, a feeling of incompleteness, and anxiety and depression; difficulties during childbirth; cysts and abscesses; keloid scar formation; damage to the urethra resulting in urinary incontinence; painful sexual intercourse; and sexual dysfunction.
There are simply no words for this, particularly in light of the fact that elected officials in the region just agreed to end FGM with assurances that its practice would be prosecuted!
From All Africa:
“About 500 girls were circumcised in Sebei region over the Christmas period, a sharp rise in Female Genital Mutilation from just 90 in the previous circumcision season.
Bukwo and Kapchorwa local leaders said 490 girls aged between 10 and 21 years underwent the ritual that now involves the removal of not only the clitoris but also the entire labia.
The removal of the labia is an influence from the Kenyan Pokot who live side by side with the Sebei. The removal of the entire labia does not only cause excessive bleeding, but also exposes the girls to more chronic infections, painful sexual intercourse and more complications during child birth.”
This year for the 3rd time, the Feminist Peace Network will once again be participating in Take Back The Tech, a campaign to use information communication technologies to raise awareness about violence against women. Take Back The Tech is held in conjunction with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence,
(Which) is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
- raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
- strengthening local work around violence against women
- establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
- providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
- demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
- creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women
As long time readers of this blog might surmise, this is hardly a stretch for us because the mission of this blog is to raise awareness about violence against women EVERY day. What is particularly empowering about these 10 days is that it is a chance for women all over the world who are doing similar work to come together and connect our efforts in increasingly empowering ways. Check out the Take Back The Tech website where you can find many useful tools, including graphics that you can add to your own website and much more. Join us in saying it is time, once and for all, to end the pandemic of violence against women.
From All Africa:
“Thousands of young girls annually prepare for their initiation into a women’s secret association, Sande Society, which operates mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
As part of their initiation, young women take a vow of secrecy after weeks of training in the forest, promising not to not tell uninitiated girls or men what happens to them, to assume new names, and to have their clitorises cut off – known as female genital mutilation (FGM) – according to women in the secret society.
About half of Liberia’s some 16 ethnic groups, including the Bassa, Mende, Gola and Kissi, observe the rules of this historically-secret, centuries-old society.