Amazonian Initiative Movement (AIM), Sierra Leone – Fight against Female Genital Mutilation

'Educating people means strengthening them. Only by changing the way of thinking, we can change peoples actions'. Rugiatu Turay, Founder and leader of AIM. Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMES Archive'Educating people means strengthening them. Only by changing the way of thinking, we can change peoples actions.' Rugiatu Turay, Founder and leader of AIM.
Photo: © TERRE DES FEMMES Archive

Project area: Lunsar (80km north east of Freetown), Sierra Leone

Supported by TDF since: 2009

Target group: Girls and young women threatened by female genital mutilation (FGM)

Background:

  • According to UNICEF, in 2016, about 90% of girls and women aged between 15 and 49 years suffered FGM in Sierra Leone.
  • It is estimated that up to 50.000 circumcisers are active in the country, most of them being organized in so called women’s secret societies. FGM is one of the initiation rituals for girls in the transition from teenage years to womanhood.
  • In public discourse, FGM and its life-threatening consequences are still mostly tabooed. Politicians fear the influence of the secret societies and therefore often support the practice of FGM.
  • The Maputo Protocol (Protocol for the Rights of Women in Africa) was ratified by Sierra Leone as late as 2015 under the reservation of allowing FGM from an age of 18 years instead of implementing a total ban.

Project activities:

AIM is an independent non-governmental organization whose key areas of activity are the prevention and elimination of FGM in Sierra Leone. Furthermore, AIM engages in the fight against forced marriage and sexualized violence. The organization first started its work in 2003, breaking a taboo by making FGM a subject of public discourse. In the prevention work of FGM, staff members pursue an integral concept that involves all relevant stakeholders in the sensitization and information campaigns: circumcisers, children and young adults, parents and teachers, health workers, as well as political, traditional and religious leaders.

Some of AIM’s objectives are:

  • Protection from FGM: A safe house for girls fleeing from their families due to the threats of FGM, forced marriage, sexualized violence or child work. The safe house offers a safe space for 20 or more girls and young women between 8 and 20 years. A social worker supports the girls to freely unfold their full potential. All girls continue their schooling or vocational education while in the safe house.
  • Creating alternative income opportunities for circumcisers: Cooperation with circumcisers who renounce their profession and work as anti-FGM activists. Ex-circumcisers can participate in literacy and/or farming courses to sustain their livelihoods.
  • Promoting human rights education: AIM trains young adults as peer ambassadors who then sensitize their friends and communities on human rights and human rights violations. Their commitment is recompensed by a one-year scholarship covering school or vocational institutes’ fees or promoting the foundation of an own small-scale business.

Impact:

  • In the safe house, AIM provides 20-25 girls with a safe living space. All residents have so far been saved from FGM.
  • Through awareness raising activities, AIM has convinced about 60 circumcisers to renounce the harmful practice of FGM. About half of them now work as anti-FGM activists and accompany AIM’s sensitization campaigns.

Project manager: James Kunduno

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinators Veronika Kirschner (sierra-leone@frauenrechte.de)
or TERRE DES FEMMES – section international cooperation (iz@frauenrechte.de)

AIM needs your support for:

  • running costs, the maintenance and expansion of the safe house.
  • psychological, legal support and scholarships for the girls in the safe house.
  • the remuneration of the safe house staff (matron, cook and watchman).
  • mediation sessions with parents.
  • workshops and campaigns against FGM and other harmful traditional practices.

Support AIM with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor!

You can also donate to the following account, using the keyword “Sierra Leone” as a reference for your payment:

TERRE DES FEMMES e.V.
EthikBank
IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00
BIC GENODEF1ETK

 

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