Sierra Leone’s parliament has raised the age of marriage to 18, but removed a clause from the bill which would have banned the practice of female genital mutilation, reports the BBC.
The press and public were asked to leave parliament during the debate on female genital mutilation.
When they were allowed back, the section on FGM had been removed.
So, we don’t get to hear the debate in which the country’s politicians decide it’s A-OK to cut away all or part of a young girl’s genitals, most likely including her clitoris, leaving her with little or no sexual feeling, if she doesn’t die of shock or infection. Which is a shame, because it would have been very revealing for campaigners in Sierra Leone who might want to hold specific parliamentarians to account.
Senior MP Alassan Fofana told the BBC that there was a general consensus in parliament not to outlaw FGM.
He said that measures had been introduced to control it and pointed out that this was more than previous parliaments had done.
Last year, a woman from Sierra Leone successfully claimed asylum in the UK on the basis that she feared being forcibly circumcised – a decision condemned by the Sierra Leone government.
It is good news that young girls will no longer be forced to marry – if that law is applied. But that doesn’t mean the Sierra Leone government should be let off the hook for allowing this barbaric practice to continue.