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Equality now calls for anti FGM law

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A non-governmental organization, Equality Now, calls on President
George M. Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the 54th
Liberian Legislature to enact and enforce a permanent and comprehensive law against practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) here.

The organization made the call in a press release Friday during celebration of International
Women’s Day, and after a one-year ban on FGM pronounced by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf through Executive Order 92. The ban ended on January 19th, 2019.

While expressing concern over lack of strong anti-FGM law in the country, Equality Now Programme Officer Felister Gitonga, points out that Liberia is bound by regional and international human rights instruments it had ratified.

She says therefore, it is important the country should 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,” Ms Gitonga stresses.

According to a press release, she also urges the Government of
Liberia to support educational outreach efforts in relevant
communities, noting that it was also important to educate local chiefs
on the harms of FGM.

She reminds Liberian authorities to treat women’s rights and health matters as a national priority, especially now when the world is 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
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,” she reiterates.

On 19th January 2018, ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
signed Executive Order 92, banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for one year. The temporary ban however only covered girls below 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. Press Release

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