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Sierra Leone comes under pressure to outlaw FGM after three girls die

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 13 February 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q382
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Sierra Leone, one of five countries that legally allow female genital mutilation (FGM), is facing renewed pressure to make it a crime after the deaths of three girls from the procedure on the same day made international news.

Adamsay Sesay, 12; Salamatu Jalloh, 13; and Kadiatu Bangura, 17, died in January after being cut on the first day of the Bondo initiation, a two or three week ritual that takes place in the bush, in which adolescent girls or young women are inducted into Sierra Leone’s secretive, pervasive, women only Bondo Society.

A CNN team was in Sierra Leone interviewing an anti-FGM activist, Rugiatu Neneh Turay, when she received a call alerting her to Jalloh’s death. They travelled with her to a village in the Kambia district of North West Province where they found the child’s body, five days after death, laid out in a hut awaiting police autopsy.

FGM deaths are often covered up, the bodies hastily buried, said Turay, unless somebody opposed to the practice complains. In Jalloh’s case, her father Mohamed Jalloh sat furious and inconsolable outside the hut where she lay. He said that her mother and grandmother had brought her …

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