Liberia: Advocacy Group Calls on Pres. Weah, Gov’t to Push for Permanent Anti-FGM Law
Monrovia – Equality Now, an international organization, is calling on President George M. Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the 54th Legislature to enact and enforce a permanent and comprehensive law against the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
The call was made on Friday as the world celebrated International Women’s Day, and came after the one year ban on FGM that was put in place by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf through Executive Order 92. This ban came to an end on January 19th, 2019.
While expressing concern over the lack of a strong anti-FGM law, Equality Now Programme Officer – End Harmful Practices, Felister Gitonga pointed out that Liberia was bound by the regional and international human rights instruments that it had ratified.
She added that it was important, therefore, for the West African nation to legislate its own law domestically prohibiting the practice in the shortest time possible.
“Presently, more than half of Liberian women are living with the consequences of the cut and many more are at risk. As it is, Liberia remains one of the three West African countries that do not have a law criminalizing FGM,” she said.
Ms. Gitonga further urged the government of Liberia to support educational outreach efforts to relevant communities noting that it was also important to educate local chiefs on the harms of FGM.
She reminded Liberian authorities to treat women’s rights and health matters as a national priority, especially now when the world was collectively working towards advancing women’s rights.
“During its one year of existence as a law, the temporary ban on FGM was not as effective as initially anticipated.
This was mainly due to the lack of knowledge on the existence of the ban and lack of a coordinated multi-sectoral implementation by state agencies.
On this day, therefore, we would like to remind Liberia to put in place a permanent anti-FGM law,” explained Ms. Gitonga.
On 19th January 2018, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed Executive Order 92 banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for one year.
The temporary ban, however, only covered girls below the age of 18 and imposed lenient penalties on perpetrators. Other than the temporary ban on FGM, there has never been any solid attempt at making FGM illegal in Liberia.
The few cases that have gone through the justice system have been covered under Section 242 of the Penal Code which speaks to malicious and unlawful injuries towards another person by cutting off or otherwise depriving him or her of any of the members of his body, finding a person guilty of a felony. This is punishable by up to five years in prison.