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VIEWPOINT By R. Joycelyn Wea: Views On FGM

Some lawmakers of recent times debated that FGM does not form part of domestic violence and should not be treated as such or with attention. That is simply because some those legislators in the House have little or no understanding about what “Female Genital Mutilation” is and the implication thereof.

 

FGM is a part of the broader human rights struggle of women and girls everywhere and needs to be recognized as such.

Traditional and cultural practices have long played an important role in Liberian society and continue to permeate many aspects of life in Liberia. As a result, in Liberia, FGM is considered by many as central to age-old traditional practices, it enhances the acceptability of women and girls in society.

According to 2017 statistics from the National Working Group against FGM through the Women’s Solidarity Incorporated (WOSI) initiative, approximately 35, 000 girls and young women have undergone FGM which is practiced in 10 out of the 15 counties. Over 40%of girls drop out of school after undergoing the practice and become wives and young mothers while they are still teenagers.

The effects of FGM are deep and far-reaching with lasting harm. The pain, the physical wounds, sustained emotional torture and at times death that FGM causes affect young women and girls, causing them to be unproductive in their communities.

FGM is deeply embedded in the Liberian culture and remains a sensitive issue in Liberia. Parents and family members in the areas where the practice is prevalent are subjected to tremendous pressure to subject their young girls go through the process. It becomes a double-edged sword-if they do not bow to this pressure, they and their daughters are ostracized in the community; if they allow their daughters to go through the process, then they are sowing the seeds of destruction for them.

In December 2012, UN general assembly adopted a resolution (Res L21 revision 1) calling on states to implement laws eliminating FGM among several other recommendations, representing the first time the general assembly included the elimination of FGM on its agenda.

More than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Of those women, more than one in three got married before 15 years. 200 million women and girls have undergone Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)- the majority of all women who were murdered globally in 2012, almost half were killed by partners or family members, compared to less than six percent of men killed in that same year.

This is a hidden global crisis which knows no boundaries of geography or culture therefore the need to address the situation cannot be rooted out.

To address this situation, we need awareness rising among different groups: students, youth, the media and local authorities, building caucuses with practitioners and legislators, and identifying religious and traditional leaders who are mostly men. If we adopt a united and integrated strategy only then will this harmful practice that is targeting and blighting the life of young women could be eliminated by 2030.

Marck Kartakpah

“Too often, violence against women and girls are perpetrated in the name of protecting cultural values and social norms. We see it every day, manifested in the form of sexual violence, domestic violence, and forced marriage, denial of property and resources and, of critical importance for all of us, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)”

Erica Davies-Cole

“I believe that violence against women and girls is of the most significant barriers to our mission to end poverty. Violence against women and girls take many different forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, child, early and forced marriage, sex trafficking, and so call “honor” crimes and female genital mutilation.”

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor

“FGM among several others violence against young women is rooted in the gender inequality that women face through their lives from childhood through old age, the Liberian Female Vice President recently stated. The continuing practice of FGM is a striking example of the inequality of women and girls, going hand in hand with the abuse of women, including domestic violence.”

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