For Immediate Release
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. 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. Sierra 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 rumors published in the New York Times surrounding the tragic death of 19 year old Fatmata Turay; false reports in the Guardian UK about a Sierra Leonean couple being arrested at a 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 mutilated 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:
Fuambai Sia Ahmadu, PhD.
Executive Director and Cofounder, African Women Are Free to Choose Inc. and Editor in-Chief, SiA Magazine Bethesda, Maryland
Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Legal Representative. Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tamba Ansumana, Logistics Specialist, Freetown, Sierra Leone (email@example.com)
Sarah Kamara, Personal Assistant, Project Liaison Specialist. Freetown, Sierra Leone (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Editor’s Note: Here is a heated debate on female circumcision on Stephen Sarkur’s Hard Talk in which Fuambai Ahmadu of Sierra Leone participated: