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World Vision Sierra Leone a child focused nongovernmental organization in partnership with the Advocacy Movement Network (AMNET) has succeeded in advocating and lobbying traditional chiefs and SOWEIS in Pujehun District to sign an MOU banning the female genital mutilation of girls under the age of eighteen.
World Vision Team Leader Bindi Boima in Pujehun has said that MOU is a community led initiative with enthusiasm to implement the provisions of the MOU in a bid to protect vulnerable children in rural communities within Pujehun District.
He said “World Vision is committed and determined to protect the welfare of children in Sierra Leone.”
According to the Programs Coordinator of Advocacy Movement Network Aminata Koroma, in a bid to protect the girl child from all forms of human right violations, World Vision Sierra Leone has been keen in advancing the campaign against FGM for minors.
She said World Vision Sierra Leone provided funding to AMNET for consultations with paramount chiefs, Councils Line Ministries, Civil Society, and Human Right Committees on the issue of child bondo which they say has left many children with severe health complications during and after the FGM practice.
She said in the past, it was a taboo to discuss the issue of Female Genital Mutilation due to its traditional social and economic beliefs in society, but ‘we have managed to break the barriers in making local chiefs and the ‘soweis’ understand the dangers FGM poses to the wellbeing of the girl child.
The Programs Coordinator of Advocacy Movement Network Aminata Koroma said after several meetings at various communities within Pujehun District, the idea of an MOU was lengthily discussed.
After which, she said it was agreed that that the paramount chiefs take copies of the MOU for discussion with their subjects before the signing ceremony covered by this reporter at Pujehun Council Hall over the weekend.
AMNET is complementing the effort of government in the implementation of international instruments signed to protect children and women, she explained.
AMNET has been advocating on the ban on child labour, with focus on the human right perspective through a process that involves successful consultations, dialogue, lobbying and dialogue with key stakeholders in Kambia, Port Loko, Western Rural and Western Urban and Pujehun District is the latest District to sign such MOU.
The President of Council of Paramount Chiefs Samuel AS Gbonda of Panga Krim Chiefdom Gobaru Pujehun District as Chairman of the signing ceremony emphasized the full implementation of the bye- laws prohibiting the practice assuring their fullest corporation in ensuring FGM is banned and defaulters prosecuted.
The only Female Paramount Chief present at the ceremony Matilda Yayo Minah of Kpukuma Krim Chiefdom sang bondo songs and implored the ‘soweis’ whose livelihood depends on the FGM practice.
She said in the past “we all have initiated or facilitated the FGM practice for many under age children but now the government has passed laws banning the practice. She implored locals to abide by the rules and discourage the practice.
Dauda David Fawundu Deputy Chairman of the Pujehun District Council said they are signing the MOU to put into effect some bye laws about initiation of children in to Bondo at tender age
He called for the empowerment of women and protection of the girl child from harmful traditional practices that have negative effects on the health of children and appealed for continued support towards traditional rulers and locals.
The paramount Chief of Gallineris Perri Chiefdom Pujehun District Alhaji Kamara Koroma assured World Vision and AMNET that they will work towards the successful implementation of the MOU to ban FGM in their respective communities.
Tommy Sandy Assistant Regional Human Right Officer South gave brief background of the Human Right Commission and expressed appreciation to World Vision and AMNET for supporting the protection of the girl child in a bid to complement government efforts.
He said the Human Right Commission is monitoring several violations of human right.
An officer of the Sierra Leone Police Family Support Unit in Pujehun Therisa Kandeh said violations of any of the foundermental human rights of the child is a punishable crime and the police is prepared and determined to enforce the law.
A representative of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Children’s Forum Network President in Pujehun said the MOU is a mile stone in mitigating the practice in deprived rural communities.
Local authorities in Pujehun District willingly signed the MOU with zeal, it beckons a new era in the campaign against FGM a widely believed practice in villages, Towns and Cities.
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