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21st January 2019

Mother and 6 Others Arrested for Death of 10 Year Old Girl after FGM in Magburaka!

By Claudius Beckley (26/12/18)

Evil mother, six others have been apprehended after the death of ten year old girl during a disastrous female circumcision in Magburaka.

 

Reports say the demise of the teenage girl was due to excessive bleeding in the aftermath of the Female Genital Mutilation FGM initiation. Many others are on the run following the arrests of the seven. (Photo: Corpse of ten year old girl being escorted in a truck).

Ten year old Mariatu Kamara, a pupil of class 4 in Magburaka in northern Sierra Leone, was among 68 other under-aged school children in the Bondo Bush for the ill-fated circumcision ceremony. The age of consent in Sierra Leone is 18.

This was confirmed by Madam Rugiatu Neneh Koroma, former Deputy Social Welfare Minister in the last APC government. Reports have also confirmed that among the seven people arrested, are two Soweis, one of whom is the girl's mother.

The poor girl's father was strongly against the ill-fated circumcision but the evil mother, being the breadwinner of the family, insisted that the circumcision must go ahead.

Other adults who were in the Bondo Bush reportedly ran away when the police stormed the area. This gruesome incident happening just after the launching of the 'Hands Off Our Girls' campaign by the SLPP government led by the First Lady Fatima Bio, makes it even more painful. The campaign was centred only around sexual violence and rape.

However, observers are now calling on the First Lady and the 'Hands Off Our Girls' campaigners to look beyond rape and sexual violence and to make sure Female Genital Mutilation for under-aged girls is abolished.

Mr. Kamara, the father of the late Mariatu also disclosed that this scary incident has happened before in his family when another daughter lost her life after undergoing FGM in the same Bondo Bush in Magburaka two years ago.

As we go to press, the two Soweis and five others apprehended are helping the police with their investigations. And the other 67 under-aged children are presently receiving medical treatment in hospital.

Meanwhile, the corpse of the 10 year old Mariatu Kamara has been handed over to her father for burial. May her soul rests in peace. The London Guardian Newspaper also reported the story below:

Girl, 10, Dies After Female Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone

By Kate Hodal (20/12/18)

Renewed calls for country to end practice after girl bleeds to death following mass initiation into secret society. Living in fear of FGM in Sierra Leone: ‘I’m not safe in this community’. A 10-year-old girl has died after undergoing female genital mutilation during a mass initiation into a secret society in Sierra Leone.

The girl, one of 68 involved in the rite, bled to death on Tuesday following complications from the FGM procedure. Activists said the ceremony took place in the "bondo bush" - secluded forest - in the northern province of Tonkolili district, roughly 150 miles east of the capital, Freetown.

A number of women, as well as cutters, known as soweis, are now on the run, among them the deceased girl’s mother, said Rugiatu Turay, a former government minister who founded the Amazonian Initiative Movement, a grassroots group dedicated to ending FGM. (Photo: Rugiatu Turay below).

"The girl, who has been named as Marie Kamara, had just sat her year-five examinations when she was rushed off to the initiation bush. As soon as she dropped the pen, she was taken away.

"This is the second time that a girl has died in that family: one of the sisters died of excessive bleeding after being initiated two years ago, and the father was against it this time, but the mother is the breadwinner in the family and she wanted it.

"Being the breadwinner does not give you the right to take the life of your child. We want to ensure that this incident is regarded as child abuse and use this as a test case to push the government to strengthen different institutions to take action when incidents like this happen.

"Three girls who were initiated into the secret women’s society at the ceremony, all aged between 10 and 11, have been taken to a nearby police station for questioning," said Turay.

The Chief Sowei, Ya Naro Kargbo, has been arrested and is helping police with the investigation, she added. All 67 surviving girls should be seen by medical staff to ensure the procedure hasn’t resulted in any infections, said Turay.

FGM is a common practice in Sierra Leone, where nine in 10 girls are cut, often with crude instruments such as penknives, broken glass and razor blades, according to the World Health Organization. The ritual involves the partial or full removal of the female genitalia and can cause serious health injuries.

Although it has been technically banned since emergency health measures were introduced after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, FGM has a strong government lobby. As a result, the government is one of only a few globally that has failed to outlaw the practice, said Turay.

Even a campaign launched this week by Fatima Maada Bio, the first lady of Sierra Leone, called "hands off our girls", focuses on early marriage and rape and does not mention FGM, said Alimatu Dimonekene, founder of the anti-FGM Project ACEi.

"We cannot address rape and ignore FGM," said Dimonekene. “FGM is the construct of systems that drive rape and all other forms of sexual violence and abuse of our girls in Sierra Leone. The government of President Julius Maada Bio must be seen as doing all it can to safeguard and protect women and girls from FGM. For years previous governments have ignored the issue."

Turay added: 2These girls are dying and nobody’s protecting them, not the government, not the police; even FGM campaigners are threatened. We need to use this incident as a test case: we don’t want a situation like when a 19-year-old died [from FGM in 2016] and the post-mortem results were changed [to hide the cause of death]. We need to be ashamed."

Brendan Wynne, of Donor Direct Action, which runs an FGM fund for frontline African activists, said anti-FGM organisations needed more support. "This girl’s death is devastating and shows yet again that FGM needs to be ended immediately. The most effective way of doing this is to get much increased funding to grassroots activists who are doing most of the work on this issue on a shoestring," said Wynne.

Female Genital Mutilation rates in East Africa has dropded from 71% to 8% in 20 years, study shows.

Courtesy: By Kate Hodal@katehodal, Guardian newspaper

TRIBUTE: Alpha Shaw

Journalist, Student Activist, Leader, 1958-1980

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