By R. Joyclyn Wea
Members of the National Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders say they are ready to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and all forms of harmful traditional practices against young women and girls in Liberia.
Officials of the council made the commitment at program making the observance of the ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance on Female Genital Mutilation’ (FGM) under the theme: “end female genital mutilation” held at the Monrovia City hall on February 6, 2019.
Remarking at the event, Chief Momokin Zolu, Head of Chief Affairs, National Traditional Council, said they as traditionalists have agreed and resolved to ban FGM and any form of harmful traditional practices in the Country.
“We are ready to end FGM, but we need time to talk to our people in the towns, villages, and clans throughout the counties involved in the practice,” he added.
Buttressing Chief Zolu, Ma Seta Fofana Saah, National Vice Coordinator, National Traditional Council asserted that the practice of FGM is yet to come to an end because they as traditional leaders or people have not been included in discussion regarding the practice.
According to madam Saah, FGM cannot be abolished without the inclusion of the National Traditional Council that is directly involved with the act saying “FGM issue is not money-making thing or something you will want to say for people to recognize, therefore, if you are not a member or close to authority shut your mouth.”
She further dispelled rumors that the Domestic Violence Bill will not be passed until the FGM portion of it is removed saying “we are prepared to work with the executive order.”
“We will work with the government and our international partners to end the practice, but we recommend for you to ask us how we want to do it and not how you people want it,” Saah.
Female Genital Mutilation is an entrenched cultural practice in Liberia, accordingly, the practice is alleged to be an intermediate process through which girls are purified and there by transcending from childhood to womanhood preparing for marriage. The practice shows entrenched biases between males and females and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls.
Globally, it is estimated that at least two hundred million girls and women alive today have undergone some forms of FGM and infants, school going girls and younger ones representing forty-four million have gruesomely undergone the practice of FGM.
In Liberia, approximately 35,000 girls and young women have undergone the practice either as the result of family coercion, social marginalization, and neglect by imposed future husbands, etc.
Though Liberia is a signatory to many international conventions, which prohibits the practice of FGM, the practice has escalated in Liberia. Currently, the practice of FGM due to the lack of legislation to penalize practitioners or perpetrators is now done in 11 counties out of the 15 counties of Liberia and an approximated 500 girls and women undergo FGM annually in Liberia, (NAWOFGM FGM statistics through WOSI 2017).
Liberia through former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf submitted the Domestic Violence Bill under executive order #92 thereby temporally banning FGM activities for only a year. However, the bill does not ascribe to the global call to end FGM by 2030.