-EU Amb. Delehousse
The head of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Luarent Delehousse has described the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a serious human rights violation.
In a statement Friday February 5, to commemorate the International Day for Zero Tolerance on FGM, Amb. Delehousse explained that FGM is a serious human rights violation because of its impacts which ranges from immediate to long-term, with pain and suffering, and real damage and harm, which can sometimes be physical, sexual and mental.
According to World Vision, there are currently 31 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, where FGM is being practice. It’s most prevalent in Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea, and Mali, where 90% or more of women aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to FGM.
The United Nations as part of its fight against the practice, in 2015 declared that the practice of FGM be eliminated making it a part of its Sustainable Development Goal (SGD).
Amb. Delhousse noted that the measure taken by the UN to declare the elimination of FGM as part of its SDGs is because the impact it has on women and girls is devastating.
She further explained that Female genital mutilation does not benefit women and girls in any shape or form. Rather it does, in fact, have a tremendous cost for their families, the community and any country at a large.
The EU envoy opined that the way to address the issue of FGM and other gender based violence is to focus more on the root causes, which are found in gender discrimination and power inequalities.
She observed that through the Spotlight Initiative, the EU, in partnership with One UN, continues to support the Government, traditional leaders and civil society in this rigours work to promote gender-equitable social norms and improve the lives of women and girls.
Madam Delehousse further observed that while there have been important progresses in Liberia to prevent sexual and gender based violence; the passing of legal framework’s such as the Rape law and Domestic Violence Act, and the increased awareness & discourse on women’s rights, there is yet a lot that still remains to be done.
However, she was quick to acknowledge that changing structurally embedded gender inequalities requires courageous and high level leadership as well as national ownership.
In this regard, she explained that the EU commends the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Government for taking the extra step in its commitments formalising the Anti-SGBV Roadmap with its pledges in 2020.
“One very important commitment made in the Anti-SGBV Roadmap was the undertaking to extend the Executive Order #92 temporarily banning FGM –until a law on FGM can be passed,” she noted adding “We urge on continuous efforts to push for a legal framework addressing FGM as it is a crucial step in criminalising harmful practises and human rights violations on women and girls.”
She further praised the efforts being taken amongst traditional leaders, saying “we have also seen increased action on addressing harmful traditional practices, for instance showcased in the commitment of traditional leaders when signing the ‘Seven-Count Policy’ suspending Sande for one year.”
She commended the traditional leaders in this regard and urged them to follow the positive steps by signing and committing to the extension of the ‘Seven-Count Policy’.
“You traditional leaders are also instrumental in encouraging your peers and community members to change the harmful traditional practises; and rather influence them to change harmful behaviours and beliefs – by leading by example advocating and speaking out amongst your members and communities on the necessity to stop FGM, and to indeed make Liberia a better and safe place. The EU remains your partner in this endeavor and we will continue through our support in the Spotlight Initiative,” she added.