Fifteen top practitioners of FGM (female genital mutilation) in Sierra Leone last weekend publicly announced their decision to abandon their positions as female circumcisers. At a rally organized by the Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM), a local NGO, the women set their instruments on fire and proclaimed that they will now work towards “safeguarding the health of women and girls,” TODAY online reports.
The 15 women were well-known and responsible for about a third of the FGM in the town of Lunsar, TODAY online reports. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “an estimated 100-140 million girls and women worldwide [have] undergone female genital mutilation Ñ the removal of all or part of the female external genitalia as part of traditional initiation rituals or marriage preparation customs.” In Sierra Leone, approximately 90 percent of women have undergone female genital mutilation, reports UNICEF.
Health complications due to female genital mutilation include infection, excessive bleeding, and in some cases death. Studies have shown that the procedure may also cause “infertility, pregnancy and childbirth complications, and psychological problems through inability to experience sexual pleasure,” reports the World Health Organization.
According to Rugiatu Turay, coordinator for AIM, the organization has been able to convince about 400 practitioners in 111 villages in Sierra Leone to end the practice, reports IRIN News. AIM activists believe that education and mass literacy campaigns will be necessary in order to raise awareness regarding the risks of FGM and provide alternative employment for female circumcisers in Sierra Leone, reports the World Health Organization.