Protests on FGM spark controversy in Sierra Leone

Association

Reports recently emerged of a 28-year-old woman allegedly being subjected to forced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and locked inside a house for four days prior to being freed by police and admitted to hospital. Following the event, members of the FGM Council in Sierra Leone’s Eastern Kenema District protested against what they call the 'interference' of police forces into the activities of their secret society. Despite numerous calls by domestic and international women's right groups, increasing evidence illustrates that the recent ban on FGM in Sierra Leone is not being enforced. Furthermore, the secret societies who carry out the procedure have well established links with the political elite; making abolishment of the practice incredibly challenging as the societies can influence how local communities vote. Following the protest by the pro-FGM group, police forces arrested and later freed a few members on charges involving forced female genital mutilation (FGM).

Peaceful Assembly

On 19th October, the Fourah Bay College (FBC) was forced to halt 2016-17 elections until further notice because of protest disturbances. The administration's decisions to limit the number of contestants for the upcoming elections sparked controversy among the student body. Many have viewed the omission on certain candidates as unfair and believe that the administration has wrongly interfered with the parameters for candidacy. During the protest, students spread oil on the steep road heading to the campus and threw bottles and stones at passing cars.