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FAHP Engages Teachers on FGM

By Ragan M. Conteh
The Forum Against Harmful practices (FAHP) on Friday 26-27 August 2022 trained teachers of Pujehun and Western Rural Districts on Female Genital mutilation (FGM).
The training session took place at the Settus Villa Hotel, Bureh Town and in the Western Rural District.
The training of teachers is a collective efforts to support girls raise the voices on the effects of FGM on health which is a human rights violation in the Western Rural and Pujehun District.

The Executive Director of Tamareneh organization, Madam Salamatu Martha Kamara stated that the forum against harmful practices is working towards ending the practice of FGM.
She told participants that FAHP is not talking about age of consent but it is working relentlessly to end FGM practices in Sierra Leone.
Madam Salamatu Kamara said the training is basically to train teachers about the concept of FGM, health, psychological and its human right effects on the lives of girls and women.
She said it is important to note that FGM is no respect of age, adding that the older the person the more dangerous the practice is on her life. Therefore, she said the training is not only for school going pupils but is also applicable to all sphere of life.
She pointed out that, at the end of the training, participants should be clear on the concept of
FGM and the work of FAHP participants should be able to replicate the training in their various schools.
She went further that participants would be inspired to serve as FGM champions in their various schools/communities.
She explained that Female Genital Mutilation is all procedures were the Female genitalia are deliberately cut, injured or changed for non-medical reasons this to be done.
She continues that FGM is also known as female circumcision or cutting, caused by other terms known as suna, megrez, gudnies, halalay, tahur to name but few cultural names.
She told participants that FGM refers to all forms or procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other forms of injuries to the female genitalia organs for cultural or other non-medical reasons.
Madam Salamatu Martha Kamara also define FGM “as the smallest but most harmful unit of the bondo society practice”
The Secretary of the Forum Against Harmful practices, Madam Aminata Koroma in her presentation informed participants that FAHP was formally established on the 26th of June2014 as a national coalition to respond to the increasing need for collaborative working among organisations working towards the reduction and ultimate eradication of Harmful Practices (HP’s). These practices according to her, include but are not limited to child/forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) which can contribute to reproductive health problems teenage pregnancy, maternal mortality and violence against Women.
She said FAHP was established to serve as a unifying force to coordinate the activities of organizations working on the issues of HPs.
She continue that FAHP holds the view that Harmful Practices (HPs) labelled because they impact negatively on the human rights of those concerned and as such, must be replaced over time With progressive and supportive activities that help all Sierra Leonean women to reach their full potential.
Giving the vision of FAHP, Madam Aminata Koroma said, the Coalition want to see a Sierra Leone free from all forms of harmful practices including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
She said the mission is to see FAHP’s speak with unified voice against Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs), where women and girls are able to exercise the enjoyment of their Human Rights and to reach their full potential.
“We work towards ensuring that FGM interventions are better coordinated for impact in Sierra Leone,” Madam Koroma said. Madam Secretary further explained to participants that, FAHP has a constitution upon which it operates.
She said in 2015 The Forum registered with the Line Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs and now registered with the Ministry of Economic planning.
As a national coalition, she said, FAHP covers the five Regions and all the districts of Sierra Leone.
Speaking on membership, FAHP Secretary said the Coalition is now made up of 23 registered national organizations based in all regions of the country.
She said they also have international Members who provide technical and financial support both in country and out of the country.
She said FAHP employs culturally friendly approaches devoid of confrontation, including consultations with all sectors of the Society, Parliamentarians, Initiators (Soweis or Digbas), Parents and Girls at risk.
She also informed participants that FAHP does a number of trainings on human rights violation, negative effect of FGM on health as well as training of journalists on FGM sensitive reporting.
She disclosed that some of the strategies is dialogue which is one key strategy employed by FAHP to break the silence on FGM, adding that the approach seeks to talk with people to discover their interest on FGM as an entry point to discussion. She said during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence
Campaign, the Forum Against Harmful Practices (FAHP) Sierra Leone chose to draw attention to the need to approve and implement the national strategy for the reduction of FGM/C in Sierra Leone.
Thus, she said the District Dialogues were able to bring focus FGM/C as an issue of gender equality and bring attention to issues and changes that are needed to make an impact on FGM/C abandonment.
The aim of the District Dialogues according to Madam Aminata Koroma was to secure endorsement and approval of the National Strategy for the reduction of FGM/C in Sierra Leone from with key, influential leaders at the Chiefdom and District levels.
She said the coalition has dialogue with soweis for alternative rite of passage as FAHP recognised the importance of the Bondo Society as training ground to maintain our cultural beliefs and a source of power to the initiators as well as a place of social activities for members.
She intimated that FAHP started discussions with the Soweis to map out strategies to promote the Bondo without Harm by designing an alternative rite of passage Discussion have been initiated in the Bondo Shrines with only members in three districts, – Kenema, Tonkolili and Port Loko. Speaking on the plans of FAHP, she said the coalition want to continue engagement (consultations, dialogue and trainings) on the effect of FGM
Celebration of special days as well as raising awareness on FGM from a health and human rights perspective, explore new perspectives looking at FGM as a Social norm including community mobilization and sensitization. The strategy she said is also geared towards engaging Soweis in the initiation shrines on the alternative rite of passage-Bondo without Harm.
Presentation of advocacy skills was undertook by Mr Gibril Kargbo.
Participants from the two district expressed their thanks and appreciations to FAHP for the training and they pledged to replicate the trainings to their students and communities.

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