Women Journalists Attacked after Reporting on Female Genital Mutilation in Sierra Leone

Four female journalists were brutally attacked last week by a pro-female genital mutilation (FGM) group in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The journalists were abducted, stripped, and marched through the city after being accused of reporting on an anti-FGM campaign. Police and human rights organizations intervened to free the women.

Members of the Bondo society, a secret society of women that uses circumcision to initiate new members abducted the women. The group’s leader, Haja Massah Kaisamba said that the women were “taken into our custody because they spoke unfavorably on radio against FGM,” according to The Guardian. Abducted journalist, Manja-Balama Samba told the Independent Online “we received threatening phone calls on our lives, that we will be taught a lesson not to report on FGM…we were only undertaking a reporting assignment and have no hand in any campaign.”

Female genital mutilation (FGM), partial or total removal of external genitalia, continues to be practiced illegally throughout Africa. FGM is practiced as a rite of passage in 28 African countries. Approximately 3 million young women annually are forced to undergo FGM as an initiation into womanhood.


The Guardian 02/10/09; Independent Online 02/09/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 02/02/09

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