OK, that’s not entirely true. But I am ashamed of my government.
You see, the Sierra Leonean parliament recently passsed a child rights bill that outlaws the marriage of under-aged girls. But they also removed a provision in the bill that would have made Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) illegal.
FGM, euphemistically known as female circumcision, may involve as much as the total or partial removal of the clitoris and other external parts of the female genitalia. Throughout much of Africa, girls undergo the procedure upon entering puberty. The resultant decrease in sexual sesitivity is not the worst consequence of this violent and barbaric practice. Women who undergo this practice may also get infections in the cut area and develop scar tissue, which isn’t as stretchy as normal skin and may tear during intercourse and childbirth, leading to further risk of infection and other reproductive complications. Another health hazard is the spread of HIV through the use of unsterilized cutting instruments.
While parliament deserves some credit for raising the age of marriagability, it is disappointing that they chose not to outlaw FGM. The opposite course of action would have struck a blow for women in Africa and given me a reason to be proud of my government, especially at this time when there is less and less for Sierra Leoneans to be proud of.
Sierra Leoneans have a rich and old culture with many, many positive aspects. FGM is not one of them. We do not need to mutilate our women to preserve our culture. We can afford to let go of this monstrous practice.
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