Wluml dossier 3 June/July 1988 Sexual Mutilations

Female circumcision in Sierra Leone

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Female circumcision in Sierra Leone
The country
Sierra Leone is situated on the bulge of the West African Coast. It is bounded by the republic of Guinea on the North East and North West and by the Republic of Liberia on the South East and by the Atlantic Ocean on the West and South West. The country is divided into areas, namely the Western area in which lies the capital city of Freetown. The other areas are the Northern, Southern and Eastern areas.
Literacy rate is 5 - 7%. Illiteracy is 90 - 95%. The population is 4.2 million and of this 80% live in the rural areas. The practice of female circumcision affects 90 % of our female population. There are four major ethnic groups in the country, inhabiting the 4 areas already noted. The Krio, 8% the whole female population, live in the Western area and are the only ethnic group who do not practice female circumcision. The other ethnic groups, the Mendes, Temnes, Limbas all practice the act of female circumcision. I must point out these ethnic groups consist of Muslims, Christians and Animists. Therefore the practice of female circumcision is not a religious rite, but it is a culture rite or a rite of passage from Childhood to adulthood.

Female circumcision has been practiced in Sierra-Leone for over 200 years. The practice is believed to have originated because Communities required women to be virtuous until marriage, and after Marriage to remain faithful to their husbands. The communities believed that female circumcision removed the Organ responsible for sexual excitement and renders the female unresponsive to other males seeking sexual adventure. They also believed:

Although examination of all these reasons has shown that they have no real scientific or logical basis for continuing the practice, they still persists.

There are 3 types of Female Circumcision:

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