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Sierra Leone News: As Salone ratifies Maputo Protocol…Female teenage genital mutilation discouraged

After 34 years when the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right was adopted, Members of Parliament yesterday after serious deliberation, unanimously ratified the Maputo Protocol as a way of strengthening the existing Legislations on women’s and children’s rights but discouraged the teenage female genital mutilation.
Immediately the Minister of Social Welfare, Alhaji Moijue Kaikai, was called to table the Protocol for debate and possible ratification, over 50 women who were seated in the Parliamentary Gallery, went outside, leaving everyone in suspense about the reason for their movement, until when the Minister explained that he was not in Parliament to put a halt on Female Genital Mutilation.
Presenting the document before Members of Parliament for ratification after proper deliberations if possible, the Minister of Social Welfare, Alhaji Moijue Kaikai, disclosed that the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa was taken to Cabinet, where it was discussed as part of the Global village to respect the rights of others and also respect our cultural traditions.
He maintained that it is the position of Government that female genital mutilation should only take place after the age of 18 years, below such age is a crime, explaining that even if the Protocol is ratified, there will be no legislation on the abandonment or the criminalisation of our cultural traditions.
Making her contribution on document before them for ratification, Hon Emma Kowa disclosed that the Government had tried a lot in enacting Sexual Offence Act, Gender-based Violence Act, Child Rights Act among others, that contains provisions of the Maputo Protocol that seeks to strengthen the laws of women as she further appealled to his colleagues to ratify it.
Hon Paran Umarr Tarawally, stated that the Protocol they are discussing is affecting women mentally, psychologically, mentally and physically, as he urged Members to speedily ratify the document, which according to him, came to strengthen homes, unite families, provide food and shelter and not to separate, as people are thinking.
He also said that the Protocol seeks to address the issues of widow, provide protection for elderly people, protect women from sexually transmitted disease, including HIV/AIDS and clearly support our local domestic Legislation, citing section 30 of the Protocol that makes provision for the filing of amendments which until Sierra Leone ratifies it, the country will not have the status to file for amendment.
According to the Minority Leader, who is also the Vice President of the PAN African Parliamentary Caucus, Hon Bernadette Lahai, disclosed that since 2003 when the Maputo Protocol was adopted, African women have been agitating for their rights to be recognised and that in 2005, 36 out of the 48 Countries that signed, ratified the Protocol.
She explained that this is not the first Protocol to be ratified by them, as they have done it on the Convention and Rights of Child, Convention for persons with disability, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on which they did not cross the ‘T’s or dot ‘I’s, explaining that more attention should be paid on it domestication, where they will have to protect the customs and traditions of the country.
The Minority Leader states that some of our traditions and cultures are of no interest and so they must be wiped out, adding that the good traditions and culture should continue to be in our practices and that the issue on age should be taken into consideration when engaging on female genital mutilation.
This is a payback time for the good work done by the women of Sierra Leone in bringing peace, help in the fight against ebola” she recalled, urging the male MPs to join them in ratifying the Protocol before them for the benefit of the nation.
By Alhaji M. Kamara
Friday June 03, 2015

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