There is a world of stories to be told
The Sowei women drop their knives
Yele & Bumbuna, Sierra Leone (2021)
In September 2020 we started a project called „My body, my right“ at the NGO Commit and Act Foundation Sierra Leone. So far, we have been able to implement the project in the villages of Yele and Bumbuna. This program is dedicated to keep underage girls safe from the female genital mutilation practice. We work together with families, schools and communities to make them understand the risks that this practice implies in the life and future of the girls. So far, 600 girls have joined the project. 600 girls free of FGM!
After two years of not being able to travel because of the pandemic, we finally decided to visit the country again. As we arrived to the village, we found ourselves surrounded by a crowd. Everybody was playing drums, singing and dancing, they seemed very happy and excited to see us. To our surprise, this crowd was basically consisting of the girls and the sowei women. 25 sowei women dancing in their traditional dresses and playing the drums for the first time outside the Bondo Bush. They were carrying the knifes, which they use to initiate the girls. At the end of the performance they -literally- dropped their knifes at our feet, and told us they’ve decided to quit the practice and even enrolled their own girls into the program. This was a revolutionary moment for us, and hopefully the start of a bigger story, a bigger change. The sowei used to play their drums very loud in the Bondo, so no one could hear the girls scream. Today, these 25 sowei play their drums along the voices of the girls, who scream „My body, my right!“.