Launch of Sierra Leone Women Are Free to Choose and SiA Magazine Fall 2016

Press Statement by Sierra Leone Women are Free to Choose (SLWAFC)

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 September, 2016

Fuambai Sia Ahmadu Co-Founder of All Women Are Free to Choose (AWAFC Inc )

On September 22nd, Sierra Leone Women are Free to Choose (SLWAFC) will officially launch our “imitated not mutilated” campaign in Freetown, Sierra Leone as well as the Fall 2016 edition of SiA Magazine. (Photo: Founder of SLWAFC – Dr. Fuambai Sia Ahmadu).

SLWAFC is a local chapter of All Women are Free to Choose Inc (AWAFC), a U.S. based international advocacy organization for the promotion of inter and intra gender equality of circumcised women and girls globally.

Our “imitated not mutilated” campaign celebrates the aesthetic benefits of Sierra Leone’s female circumcision procedures.

Our traditional female genital aesthetic operations are being imitated and marketed by western doctors and hailed by their predominantly white female patients of all ages who undergo labiaplasty, clitoroplexy and other identical forms of so-called female genital cosmetic surgeries.

Our key focus is on raising awareness among grassroots Sierra Leonean women and adolescent girls of their constitutional rights in the face of highly organized and aggressive anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) campaigns.

We will also raise awareness among circumcised women  and adolescent girls of the hypocrisy of these campaigns and efforts to deny the women of Sierra Leone our universal human rights to equality, dignity and self-determination with respect to our ancestral traditions.

SLWAFC fully supports current Government efforts to promote adult-only initiation into Bondo. This is a recognition of the right of adult women to choose what to do with their own bodies.

Within Bondo, excision involves the removal of excess clitoral foreskin or the exposed glans (the bulk of the clitoris is beneath the skin and cannot be removed) as well as trimming of the labia minorae.

Bondo2Sierra Leonean adult women are entitled to the same autonomy, dignity and privacy in undergoing these procedures as white western women who opt for identical cosmetic operations in their own countries.

Recent incidents in Sierra Leone and outside, provoked by outside anti-FGM activists and the Sierra Leonean FGM “surviviors” or “victims” they finance are maliciously designed to embarrass the Government of Sierra Leone, the Minster of Social Welfare, Gender and Children Affairs and shame a sovereign nation into imposing a legal ban against a practice that is perfectly legal in their own countries.

These incidents include false rumours surrounding the tragic death of 19 year old Fatmata Turay that were propagated worldwide; false reports about a couple being arrested at UK airport and an 11 year-old girl taken away from them; false reports filed in a UK law court against a high-ranking Sowei who was part of the official delegation to the Geneva conference on the CRC; and now allegations about a 28 year old being forcibly circumcised by another high-ranking Sowei.

These incidents make clear the urgency to know and defend our rights as circumcised women who are targets of slick, malicious and psychologically abusive anti-FGM campaigns.

We look forward to engaging with all stakeholders and welcome a robust debate in Sierra Leone about the benefits of Bondo excision operations that are being imitated in the West and the importance of Bondo’s unique ancestral matriarchal traditions.

For more information, please contact:

Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Legal Representative. Freetown, Sierra Leone

Tamba Ansumana, Logistics Specialist, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Sarah Kamara, Personal Assistant, Project Liaison Specialist. Freetown, Sierra Leone

Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, PhD. Executive Director, AWAFC Inc. and Editor in-Chief, SiA Magazine

Bethesda, Maryland (fuambai@awafc.org)

4 Comments

  1. And well done to to you Kumba and Eku. What takes place in Sierra Leone should be the entire business of us Sierra Leoneans. If we ever need the assistance of any outsider we shall let them know in unambiguous terms.

    We may have made a mess of our independence , but we are still an independent sovereign nation , something which Sir Milton Margai, Wallace Johnson and others tirelessly fought for – we must not let them down , and cause them to roll over in their respective graves in disgust.

    We are not in the habit of telling other nations how to structure their cultural values , we demand the same from them , whether or not they are hiding behind the U.N. , which seems to know nothing about our tribal and ethnic makeup . This forces me to think that there may well be forces who do not want to see a stable Africa , especially the sector that is below the Sahara.

    President Koroma had an excellent opportunity a few days ago at the U.N. general assembly meeting to impress upon the world the sensitive nature of Bondo in his country , which he did not wish to spin out of control.

    Putting his prepared text aside to demonstrate that he was speaking from the heart, he should have told the world that the two largest tribes in his country – Mende and Temene – are into Bondo . Therefore , a sudden outright ban is not feasible for a practice spanning centuries , which also encompasses other large ethnic and tribal groups , such as the Limbas , Lokos , konos and many more. In effect more than three quarters of the population are into Bondo. His final remarks should have reminded the U.N. that it was not long ago when the body sent peace keepers to his country to help put down a civil war which left thousands either dead or mutilated , and that the touchy issue of Bondo could well lead to something quite close.

    The problem , however , is that on sensitive issues President Koroma seems to be more comfortable hugging the background than being at the forefront of the fire storm even though he is the overall leader of the country. He always reminds me of the military officer who ordered a soldier to retrieve a burning vehicle while hid in safety. Unfortunate for the young officer, word about the incident reached the overall commander who promptly dismissed the officer from the army for his conspicuous display of cowardice.

    We must remember that legislating against people’s mind is impossible. In nearly all countries of the world there are laws against racism , but has it ended racism ? The like of Mustache give Nigeria as an example of a country that has banned Bondo. I am looking forward to the most honourable Nigerian to declare that throughout his vast land Bondo has become something of the past.

    Carry on Fumbai Amadu. I am always hugging you from a distance and so are Kumba , Eku , and others who have not lost their bearings.

  2. Eku,

    There’s no way to make a common chimpanzee beautiful even with coat and tie. The same is true of nonsense and satanic Bondo Devil practices. For there is NOWHERE in God’s word that says anything about female genital cutting.

    As a matter of fact, FGM is a MAN-MADE evil practice to wickedly suppress the God-made sexual desires of its women initiates with clitoral organ functional death. It doesn’t mean that because somebody is one-legged so he is unable to walk, but with physical and psychological constraints.

    Frankly, Bondo needs to STOP and see how many people will die of its uninitiation in Sierra Leone. NON whatsoever! Amen.

  3. What is the problem if adult women want to be circumcised (initiated into Bondo)?

    Bondo in Sierra Leone is too big a tradition to be swept aside. Sometimes it is celebrated like a wedding or even bigger. Many families I know, want the tradition to continue – but they are keen to see children spared from this procedure.

    My mother and my aunties were all circumcised as children. They went on to have full lives, each had more than 5 children, none had Caesarean sections or any terrible problems during childbirth. Now as they approach their 70s, none are suffering from leaking urine or any problems around their genital areas. I have spoken to them and they have no regrets – they do not think it affected their lives in any way.

    I work out of Sierra Leone and I see so many women who were circumcised as children…….in fact, they have more children than the normal population. They also use contraception if they so wish without even their husbands knowing this.

    There are many young white girls delivering who run into major problems during delivery and then require a caesarean section or leak urine later in life. So circumcised or not, you can have problems.

    As far as I know, some cultures ……not in Sierra Leone, have circumcision procedures which are quite drastic and it involves taking off all the external genital area. This I find unnecessary.

    However the democratic right to choose must always be paramount – whether you are black or white, rich or poor, educated or not educated and whether you live in a first or third world country.

    The procedure must be made safe, so that NO ONE dies during the process or after.

    I feel the Soweis must be trained in clinics about hygiene; how to thoroughly clean the area before any cut is made; how to made it as painless as possible; how to ensure the person is healthy enough to go through the procedure; what sort of equipment to use; to use sterile gloves and a clean and brand new cutting instrument on each woman.

    The Soweis should be taught how to stop bleeding quickly and be able to transfer the woman as soon as possible to hospital if any complications arise. They must also be advised to act quickly and send the woman to hospital if they detect any smell or pus coming from the cut area or if she develops a fever.

    I also feel that the word ‘bondo bush’ denotes an unclean area. Circumcision is a sterile clean procedure, so the ‘bush’ has to be modernised; a clean airy bright room with tiles so it can be easily wiped down and cleaned after each woman is circumcised.

    The other alternative to be allowed into a hospital or clinic to do the procedure just as is done for male circumcision.

    In the Western countries, tattooing is done all over the place in clean safe government regulated rooms.

    Bondo can be done safely in the same way.

  4. Well done Ms Fuambai. At last someone is standing up for our culture. I wish I were in the country to join you on that issue. The west should mind their own affairs. No one is inviting them to marry Sierra Leoneans. One day, I would love to meet with you

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