Target: President of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma
Goal: Praise communities in Sierra Leone for banning the practice of female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the practice of removing a female’s genitals. The procedure has no medical benefits, and instead subjects the female to excruciating pain, humiliation, and prevents her from receiving sexual pleasure. Instead, FGM is practiced to keep a woman chaste and stop her from having an affair when she is married. This practice has been banned in many countries, often through rigorous protests. However, communities in Sierra Leone have banned FGM by simply having women and men share their thoughts on the controversial practice. These communities should be praised for its innovative and heartfelt change.
Community leaders and women in North West Sierra Leone sat down and shared their stories of FGM, revealing how the procedure was excruciating and most having regretted their support for the procedure. Many say they don’t want their daughters to go through the same practice. In a separate group, male community leaders also shared their thoughts on how to solve the problem. After days of discussion and workshops held by Amnesty International, the community leaders agreed to put a ban on female genital mutilation for girls under the age of 18. When they come of age, the girls can decide for themselves if they want the procedure to be done. Within a month after the Memorandum of Understanding was signed, 600 girls were saved from mutilation.
The effects of these workshops were so positive and heartfelt that many activists in other countries have taken up this practice of gathering the community together and talking. This project is part of Amnesty International’s African Human Rights Education Programme, which is trying to educate African communities about human rights abuse, notably those concerning female genital mutilation. There are seven programs running in Sierra Leone, and despite the issue being a difficult subject to broach, many communities have a history of dialogue. By gathering people to talk about their feelings with FGM, Sierra Leone was able to ban such practices.
Female genital mutilation results in many severe complications. During the procedure, women and girls experience shock, pain, heavy bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, and sometimes death. As adults, women suffer from chronic pain, difficulty in child bearing, and decreased sexual enjoyment. Sign this petition and praise the community for banning the practice of FGM in a positive manner.
Dear President Ernest Bai Koroma,
The Chiefdom of Masungbala in North West Sierra Leone recently passed a law that prevents the practice of female genital mutilation on girls under the age of 18. As adults, these women can choose whether they want their genitals removed, instead of having it decided for them as young girls. As you may know, female genital mutilation has no medical benefit, but has a plethora of consequences. Women who have had their genitals removed experience chronic pain, decreased sexual pleasure, and difficulty in child bearing.
I am writing to praise the community for the positive way it came to this solution. I am glad that the issue was wrapped up in a manner that has inspired other communities to do the same, and I hope other controversial issues can be easily resolved in this manner.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: LindsayStark via Flickr