As Sierra Leone prepares for the forthcoming general elections, scheduled in March, female genital mutilation (FGM) has become, ironically, an enticing piece of meat to grab votes from the poor electorate. While many countries in the world and aid agencies are busy discouraging girls from undergoing female genital mutilation, which has been proved medically to have many dangerous health repercussions, some politicians in Sierra Leone – especially candidates in the upcoming elections – are in fact, buying voters’ votes by encouraging them to undergo female genital mutilation. These candidates woo voters by promising to pay for the cutting ceremonies
To prevent this, the government of Sierra Leone has decided to ban female genital mutilation (FGM) until after its March elections. But an outright ban on the harmful practice is still a dream.
With more than 90% of all girls undergoing FGM, to initiate them into all-female groups, Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of FGM in Africa. It is therefore not a big surprise that many shrewd politicians would encourage the practice for their own selfish political gains. The cost for the FGM ceremonies, which include entertainment and the cutting itself, can go up to $200. For a country, where many citizens live below the poverty level, $200 can be an irresistible amount of money to many. Sadly, Sierra Leone has not done much to ban the harmful practice permanently.
Unless the government of Sierra Leone takes drastic steps to completely ban female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country, many young women will ever be exposed to terrible health dangers associated with the practice. More than that, many heartless politicians will continue to feed fat on the vulnerability of the young girls for their political advantage. That puts the future of many young women Sierra Leone – and the country as well – in jeopardy.