To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what recent discussions she has had with her counterpart in Sierra Leone on the temporary ban on female genital mutilation introduced by that Government; and if she will make representations to that Government to make the ban permanent.
The Government of Sierra Leone has placed a temporary ban on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) during the March 2018 elections. This was in place for the first round of voting and remains in place during the run off vote for the Presidency. The ban was put in place to prevent candidates paying for girls to undergo the practice as a method of influencing voters. The UK is in full support of this ban. In our messages to all presidential candidates we asked for the protection of the rights of women and girls. The UK Government has consistently lobbied the Government of Sierra Leone to fulfil their international obligation to legislate against the practice of FGM/C and to approve a National Strategy to support this. We will raise this issue as a priority with the new government and we stand ready to support implementation of the Strategy once approved. We will also work to build coalitions of support to end the practice and lobby government to take the necessary action.