|You can say 'no' to circumcision|
As a high proportion of girls in Sierra Leone drop out of school, many of them do not have the knowledge and self-confidence needed to demand their rights and achieve their dreams.
By Rikke Bruntse Dahl
Many girls are every day confronted with a myriad of negative challenges that range from being teased at school and sexual harassment to circumcision and early, forced marriage.
In the first week of december 2011 IBIS i Sierra Leone held a “Girls’ Camp”, where 22 girls at around 14-15 years old from different community schools, which IBIS has worked with, got the chance to spend a week together in one of the country’s largest cities, Makeni. For a lot of the girls, this was the first time they were outside Kono.
The main objectives of the camp was to give the girls the opportunity to experience a world outside their villages, to participate in activities that strenghten their self-confidence and ability to be part of a group, and not least to give them the basic knowledge of their rights as children and, later, as women.
What the girls learned at the camp, their girlfriends back home in the villages will also benefit from. Marty Koroma, 15, explained that when she gets back to her school, she will tell all the girls that she has learned that there is a law that prohibits circumcision of girls under the age of 18, and that young women above 18 have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to be circumcised or not.
According to Margaret Jenkins, gender facilitator of IBIS in Sierra Leone, circumsion of very young girls is still a major problem in Sierra Leone. "The girls here learn that they have certain rights. Saying ’no’ to being circumcised is one of them.“