Traditional leaders have been an integral part in the work of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) since its establishment, to protect and promote the rights of all in the country. They have been involved in some of the activities implemented by the Commission because they are the bridge between human rights and culture in their respective communities.
In a bid to get them to understand better the dos and don’ts from a right-based approach in reducing sexual and gender base violence and female genital mutilation, on 19th December 2022, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) in partnership with Restless Development and Forum for Harmful Practices (FAHP), engaged twenty-five (25) traditional leaders and other stakeholders in Koinadugu district. The engagement was done at the District Council Hall in Kabala with support from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
According to stakeholders, early marriage is rampant in Koinadugu district, compared to other districts and attributed it to poverty and lack of sufficient knowledge on the issue.
Yankuba Kallay from Fadugu commended the Commission for engaging them on incidences of gender base violence and FGM, and added: “Koinadugu district is known for practicing early marriage but I believe that with this engagement, we will see a reduction.”
He promised to educate residents in his community on what they are expected to do when cases of sexual and gender-based violence and FGM occurred, and urged the Commission to take such discussion to other parts of the district.
FAHP Executive Secretary, Madam Aminata Koroma urged parents not to initiate their children into the Bondo Society because it is harmful and added: “FGM leads to polygamy and poverty. Let us pay attention in educating our children than giving them for initiation. We want to use the Bondo bush as a safe space to learn all our traditions.”
HRCSL Director of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Gloria Bayoh expressed hope that the engagement has capacitated traditional leaders and other stakeholders to help reduce Sexual Gender Based Violence, Female Genital Mutilation and other harmful traditional practices in the district.