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Interrupted Education: Unveiling the Urgency of FGM's Impact and Questioning its Barrier to Women's and Girls' Learning in sierra leone

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is not merely a contemporary concern; it has deep-rooted historical origins, reaching across cultures and spanning generations. This ancient practice, entwined with cultural beliefs and social norms, has persisted over time, leaving an indelible mark on the lives of countless women and girls.

In Sierra Leone, FGM is woven into the historical tapestry, transcending time and societal changes. It has been a tradition passed down through generations, a practice that, despite its harmful consequences, has persisted, often cloaked in cultural significance.

Staggering Statistics: The Harsh Reality of FGM in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone holds a somber distinction, ranking among the countries with the highest rates of FGM globally. According to recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, a staggering 89.6% of Sierra Leonean women have undergone some form of FGM. This statistic not only underscores the magnitude of the issue but also highlights the urgent need for intervention to protect the rights and well-being of women and girls.

The Impact of FGM on Education: A Disturbing Unveiling

In the heart of our villages, a distressing reality has come to light, demanding our collective attention and swift action. Over the past week, irregularities in the attendance of our C2C computer lab new students, aged 11 and 19, unveiled a disheartening truth. These promising minds were forced to divert their focus from education to financially support their families, compelled by the imminent event of FGM circumcision. They are now set to miss their computer classes for a period of two weeks.

It's crucial to note that C2C is a community initiative that offers free computer skills training to adolescent boys and girls, with the ambitious goal of impacting 3,072 children by 2030.

Sacrifice for FGM: The financial burden of FGM forces these students into selling green leaves and vegetables to fund essential items like clothes and rice. The weight of tradition and economic strain is steering these young lives away from the path of education, disrupting their dreams and potential.

The Dark Night of Circumcision: The gravity of this situation reached its zenith last night when we learned that the two students had undergone circumcision. The ceremony was not merely a cultural rite; it was accompanied by distressing scenes, with some children subjected to physical harm, flogged with mango branches by their cutters.

Cry for Help: Compounding the distress is the absence of an emergency number to promptly report such incidents. The lack of a direct channel for intervention leaves the victims vulnerable and perpetuates the cycle of abuse. This urgent cry for help resonates not only within our community but reverberates through the corridors of humanity, demanding a swift and resolute response.

Questioning the Silence:In a nation where nearly 90% of women are at risk of undergoing FGM, and with Sierra Leone having one of the highest rates globally, the absence of an emergency number to report such cases raises a critical question — why is there a silence surrounding this urgent need? Furthermore, if there is any free hotline available, why has it not been made widely accessible to the public, particularly to people in remote villages?

A Call to Action:

In the face of this urgent situation, we implore the Government of Sierra Leone, FGM champions, mobile companies, NGOs both local and international, and others to take a stand and advocate for change. A critical need has surfaced — the establishment of a free helpline to promptly report incidents like the one we've witnessed in Sierra Leone. Your collective support can be the driving force behind ensuring that the voices of those affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are heard and that immediate intervention becomes possible.

Let us come together in this endeavor, advocating for the establishment of a helpline that will serve as a lifeline for those in distress. Together, we can break the silence, safeguard our community members, and pave the way for a safer and more secure future. Your action today has the power to make a lasting impact on the lives of those affected by FGM. Add your voice to the collective call to completely end FGM in Sierra Leone.

This urgent situation compels us to stand united, raising awareness, advocating for change, and creating a safer environment for the well-being and education of our community members. Let us be the catalysts for transformation, ensuring that the dreams of our young minds are not sacrificed at the altar of tradition.

Together, let us unveil the urgency, share our voices, and champion the cause of a safer and more secure community.

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