By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
A group of women under the umbrella “Women Against Female Genital Mutilation” (WAFGM) in the country has disclosed that it is getting ready to petition the 53rd National Legislature to enact a law against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
FGM, an ancient ritual, is carried out in Liberia during traditional initiation ceremonies in bush schools, overseen by an immensely powerful women’s secret society called the Sande. The girls involved are sworn to secrecy and told that they or a member of their family will die if they reveal what happens in the Sande bush.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program around the world helps to mobilize local communities to combat FGM through a community-based approach to awareness-raising and peer education. UNV supports the work of its partners who are committed to eliminating FGM and protecting the rights of girls and women.
Speaking in commemoration of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on February 6, 2014, at the offices of the organization on 12 Houses Road, in Paynesville City, the CEO of (WAFGM), Madam Maima D. Robinson, said FGM is a violation of human rights which continues to put more girls and women at risk every day.
Madam Robinson told the INQUIRER that the exercise is evil and should be abolished completely because everyone has the right to all of their organs created by God. She realized that the issue of FGM has become a “taboo” for most Liberians because people consider it to be a culture or a way of life especially for persons living in the hinterland of the country.
“The practice of FGM is one of the main factors that lead to hundreds of divorces in the country. I have talked with friends and family members who have been victimized from such practice and so we are going to call on our lawmakers to ensure that we have a law forbidding FGM in Liberia,” Madam Robinson asserted.
Commenting further, Madam Robinson explained that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and as such, everyone deserves all parts of his/her body and no one has the exclusive right to deny the rights of others.
The female activist acknowledged that there will be challenges ahead of the organization to ensuring that its objectives are met but they will not be frightened by any Chiefs, Zoes or elders who consider FGM as a common practice.
Madam Robinson narrated that some victims told her that as part of the initiation, the girls are taken to forests for initiation into the Sande Society for about three to six months at which time portions of their sexual organs are extracted and use traditional herbs to cure their wounds but at times most girls die in the process while others get seriously sick.
Activist Robinson indicated that FGM’s violation has two components. The first one has to do with health complications including problems during childbirth while the other has a physiological effect on the girl or woman.
The International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation was observed on February 6 each year to make the world aware of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 120 to 140 million women have been subject to this harmful practice and 3 million girls continue to be at risk each year. FGM is also recognized as a violation of human rights internationally.