According to Awoko, the Child Right Coalition Sierra Leone – composed of non-governmental and civil-society organizations – is calling for an end to female genital cutting (FGC), a ritual that traditionally precedes forced early marriage. One child victim shared her devastating, and fairly typical, story with Awoko, illustrating why advocates are up in arms over the harmful practice:
My father died when I was 12 years old. One of our neighbors I called uncle, came to my mother’s aid by helping her with food and school fees. At 14 years, while I was in class six “uncle” asked that he foot the bills for my initiation into the bondo society. I did not fully recover from the wounds I sustained from the [FGC] initiation; I was immediately married off to him. On the first night of our marriage he forced me to have sex with him and said that I was obliged as his wife to have sex with him. In the process I got pregnant. In the ninth month of my pregnancy, I was in terrible pain and the nurse said that my passage was too small and I almost died of birth complications. Thank God a doctor performed ‘Caesarian Operation’ on me and it was successful. How I wished I had the opportunity to say no to [FGC]! I would never have gone for that initiation.
The Rights Coalition aims to monitor and hold the Government of Sierra Leone accountable to its international legal obligations to promote and defend children’s rights. Sierra Leone is a party to the African Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nation’s Convention on the Right’s of the Child (CRC), but the state has yet to pass concrete domestic legislation to implement its treaty obligations to uphold children’s rights and dignity.
READ MORE: Child Right Coalition-Sierra Leone calls for end to child Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Awoko (July 9, 2012).