Women Group Wants Female Genital Mutilation Act Put into Law
Monrovia – As part of celebrations marking the 2017 international day of zero tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) the Women Against Female Genital Mutilation (WAFGEM), a local women advocacy group is disappointed that with 11 years of female leadership, Liberia has not be able to pass the ant- FGM law despite several calls from civil society organizations.
Report by J.H. Webster Clayeh – [email protected]
Speaking Monday February 6 at the celebrations held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, the Chief Executive Officer of WAFGEM, Maima Robinson said the practice of FGM amounts to serious violations of the right of girls who are made to undergo forceful circumcision of their external genitalia.
“It is regrettable to note that under the leadership a female President, Liberia is yet to pass a law to end FGM,” said Robinson.
Robinson also reminded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of her September 27, 2015 public statement made at the Women Global Conference held at the UN General Assembly in the United States of America, wherein the President promised that before the end of her tenure she will ensure that a domestic violence bill is passed into law and also prohibit FGM and ensure women’s equal participation in politics.
“We as human rights activists are committed to building a solid and interactive bridge between government, civil society and traditional institutions to accelerate ending FGM in Liberia,” Robinson added.
FGM is a circumcision of female comprises all procedures that involve partial removal of the external female genitalia or other organs for non-medical reasons, mostly carried out on girls between infancy and age 15.
The act is carry out in Liberia through initiation into the Sande society by untrained traditional practitioners and is usually done without consent of the victim.
The immediate consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding. It is also creates difficulties in passing urine, infection, injury to nearly genital tissue and sometimes death.
With the fear of retribution, including a threat of forceful initiation into the Sande society, the CEO of WAFGEM says it is difficult for non-government organization and other stakeholders to carry on work against FGM.
“Speaking against FGM in Liberia is still remains a strong taboo thus making it difficult for NGOs, journalists and other stakeholders to carry on work against FGM,” she said.
Fear to Speak about FGM Issue
During an interactive dialogue at the program many rural women were tightlipped about the issue of FGM. According to them, there is no legal backing behind the FGM, adding that when they go back home they will be unable to talk about such issue.
The Chairlady of the Grassroots Women Group Korna Kermu said: “You see, this awareness you people carrying on is good but you don’t have your document correct.
You think if I carry this message to my community they will not put crime on me, they will fine me, but if your document correct then you get standby”.
Kermue continued: “But right now we can’t try it yah, because we try it we will spent money and you will be sitting down in Monrovia there; you will not come talk for me, because the place where I can go you can’t go there, you can stop right to the door mouth.”
“So, that message there only the sinners can carry it yah, so that it there; when you get your document you should come back in Bomi County yah”.
But addressing the rural women concern, the CEO of WAFGEM acknowledge the many difficulties they are facing and urged them to take advantage of the knowledge, adding that it could be useful in the future.
“We are giving you the information; continue to have the knowledge at the given situation you can talk to somebody.”
“At least now you know when something is happening you will say I have the idea that when people do this thing this is what can happen,” Madam Robinson said.
“So, it will not stop us from talking. We are hoping very soon we will have that law pass. So, until that law is passed it is difficult for us.”