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FGM group 'kidnaps journalists'

9 February 09 19:33 GMT

Journalists have condemned the reported abduction on Saturday of four women reporters by supporters of female genital mutilation.

Reports say the female kidnappers accused the women of insulting their traditions by criticising the practice.

Witnesses said the women were stripped and marched through the street in the city of Kenema before being released.

Sierra Leone's government said last year it would ban female circumcision but it has done nothing to date.

The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists said: "We condemn in the strongest of terms these illegal arrests and detention of the journalists and reiterate our appeal to the public that formal and civilised channels exist for seeking redress which must be respected."

According to UN figures, some 94% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 years in Sierra Leone have undergone circumcision, traditionally believed to control female sexuality and make girls more "marriageable".

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