A 10-year-old girl in the West African nation of Sierra Leone is the latest to die after he community mutilated her genitals as part of an archaic puberty initiation rite, that is outlawed in most of Africa but still practiced in Sierra Leone.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an internationally condemned ritual that involves the partial or full removal of the female genitalia. FGM is inflicted upon girls who reach puberty, as part of an initiation into a secret women’s society that holds influence and political clout.
The local police suspect FGM to be the cause of the young girl’s death in the northern Tonkolili district of the nation.
Revealing that the ten-year-old “died of blood loss,” unit commander of the Mile 91 police division, Amadu Turay, told Reuters that a woman who is believed to be in charge of the initiations has been arrested.
According to data collected by the United Nations, Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of FGM with 9 in 10 women being cut as part of the initiation ritual.
Local activists, who said that the last reported death was about two years ago, are calling on the Government to outlaw the practice in the wake of the latest death. One activist who formerly served as deputy minister of social welfare, gender and children’s affairs, Rugiatu Turay, said:
“FGM is killing our women and girls. We need to get enough publicity on this incident to draw the attention of government.”