House speaker Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie are said to be battling over the controversial Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Bill.
Spkr Chambers Pro-Temp Chie
The newly introduced Bill is seeking the abolition of forceful female genital mutilation (FGM) in Liberia, with the pairs, both of whom hailed from the Southeast of Liberia, presented contrasting opinions on the issue,
The fascinating episode between the two ‘political heavyweights’ at the Women Legislative Caucus’ induction ceremony at the Rotunda of the National Legislature.
Much to the astonishment of hundreds of bystanders who attended the ceremony, the Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate Albert Chie and House Speaker publicly disagreed with each other as Senator Chie argued that the act is a domestic violence, while House Speaker Chambers termed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a highly traditional and culturally sensitive top provocative topic within the African society that often grabs both local and international attention, as a domestic violence against girls and women.
“I as a President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, I am against domestic violence, but Female Genital Mutilation is not a domestic violence,” Pro Tempore Chie argued.
The Grand Kru Senator further argued that female genital mutilation is not a domestic violence and should not be considered as violence against women domestically.
The Pro-Tempore however frowned on other forms of domestic violence like sexual exploitation and abuse, rape amongst others, but welcomed female genital mutilation. He said Female Genital Mutilation is a form of traditional practice across the African continent that is carried out in many African countries and not only Liberia.
Contrary to that of the senate Pro Tempore’s statement, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers argued and described FGM practice as ‘domestic violence’ against women, especially juvenile.
Speaker Chambers said female genital mutilation should be carried out on women at maturity age and based on their agreement, but not to them into what they may not like to do.
“Let FGM be carried out on women at maturity age when they agree to do so and force them into it while they are under age, don’t force the children to carry out FGM on them” Speaker Chambers added.
The action of the two law makers, especially with their portfolios and origin, Speaker of the House Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate and both coming from the Southeast took shock to the faces of those at the ceremony.
Tuesday’s public disagreement between the two high profile government officials, especially at the level of the National Legislature is the first on the female genital mutilation debate which has, from-time-to-time, claimed huge public attention in the country.
While western nations argued that the practice poses serious health hazards for girls and women, traditionalists have counter argued that the practice is a strong traditional method that have properly brought up millions of girls and women in the African society. Debate over the passage of anti-FGM Bill in the country often result to intense confrontation between pro-western idealists and entrenched African traditionalists.
Also, observers say “Tuesday’s disagreement between the two top ranking officials of the government speaks to the challenge facing the passage of such Bill.”
“Passing this bill will prove very difficult because opinion on this matter remains hugely divided,” one political analyst, who claimed anonymity said.