As Sierra Leone joins the world to celebrate the international day on zero tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Mohamed Ghezel Sofla, Iran cultural consular has said Islam does not tolerate FGM.
Mr Sofla, who was speaking yesterday at the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) in an interactive session on zero tolerance to FGM organized by Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL), added that FGM was not a fundamental or a basic idea in the Quran, adding that “Islam does not have that culture”.
The cultural consular emphasized that female circumcision was neither a law nor an obligations and that it was not necessary for women.
Earlier on in her opening remarks, Asmaa James who was the chairperson and also member of WIMSAL said February 6th had been adopted by the United Nations (UN) sub-commission on human rights as the international day on zero tolerance to FGM.
She added that the official declaration on “Zero Tolerance to FGM” on the African continent was made by the former first lady of Nigeria, Mrs Stella Obasanjo.
This day, she said, had been designated by the UN to raise awareness amongst the general public about this traditional practice which severely violated the human rights of women and girls.
Mrs James pointed out that in the 28 countries in the sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East where FGM was performed, some 130 million women and that girls had been affected.
She maintained that, “FGM can result in prolong bleeding, infection, infertility, severe pain, and death”.
“The practice is still widespread in spite of a global commitment following the 2002 UN special session on children to end FGM by 2010”, said Mrs James.
She added that FGM discriminated and violated the right to equal opportunity.
According to Bockarie Lansana, the campaign and development officer at Amnesty International, “FGM is a manifestation of gender-based human rights violations that exist in all cultures that aim to control women’s sexuality and autonomy”.
He added that female circumcision was rooted in cultures of discrimination against women and therefore encouraged gender stratification, noting that it was a human rights abuse that functioned as an instrument for socializing girls into the unequal gender roles within family and community.
Mr Lansana maintained that Amnesty International believed in the total abolition and criminalization of FGM and that it was also against any form of ‘medicalization’ of the practice. Ann Marie Caulker from the National Movement for Emancipation and Progress (NaMEP) said her organisation was a coalition of 18 organizations which seek to eradicate harmful traditional practices in the country. She explained NaMEP’s success in the fight against FGM.
Karim Sei, Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), said the future of SLAJ was in WIMSAL, adding that it was a blessing for female journalists to form this organisation.
He added that, “we believe that if women are united there will be success for them”. Mr Sei appealed to female journalists in the print and electronic media to have a common focus.