Sierra Leone bans Female Genital Mutilation

Ceremonial knives used in FGM/cutting by members of the Bondo society in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone has banned female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country until after its March elections, amid fears candidates would pay for cutting ceremonies to woo voters.

In Sierra Leone, FGM is practised on young women to initiate them into all-female groups which have significant political power.

“So many politicians use FGM during campaigns to gain votes, especially those of women,” anti-FGM campaigner Rugiatu Neneh Turay said.

Paying for the FGM ceremonies can cost up to $200 (£145) for entertainment and the cutting itself.

In Sierra Leone, 90% of all girls undergo FGM, one of the highest rates in Africa.