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Sierra Leone has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation in Africa. According to UNICEF figures from 2017, the practice has been performed on an estimated 86% of women and girls in the country. Despite decades of campaigns, the traditional practice has hardly declined. This doesn’t deter Rugiatu Turay, one of Sierra Leone’s most well-known anti-FGM campaigners from fighting cutting. She founded the grassroots anti-FGM group the Amazonian Initiative Movement in 2002, is a former deputy minister of social welfare, gender and children’s affairs and in 2020 won a German human rights prize, the Theodor Haecker award, for her work. FGM involves the partial or total removal of the female genital organs, such as the clitoris or labia. Besides severe bleeding, FGM can cause a variety of health issues from infections and cysts to infertility and complications in childbirth.

A report by Equality Now calls on governments, the international community, and donors to recognize female genital cutting as a global issue, requiring urgent global attention.

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