GOL finally abolishes FGM in Montserrado
By Kruah Thompson
The Government of Liberia has taken steps to end the practice of Female Genital mutilation (FGM) in Montserrado county for the next three years.
Government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in partnership with UNwomen held an indoor program here on Monday, February 6, to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation in Songkay Town, Monsterrado County.
The program brought together traditional leaders, including Zoes from the eleven (11) FGM-practicing counties, who agreed during the ceremony to finally abolish the practice of FGM and close all sande bush schools in the county.
Speaking at the ceremony, female zoe leader for Montserrado, Massa Kandakai, recognized the closure of the Sande bush school and agreed to ban the practice if their request is met.
“Once our traditional Chief Zanzan Karwor agrees and says your stop this practice, we too agree, but what you get for use, your give it to us,” Madam Kandakai said.
Additionally, the chief female Muslim Zoe for Montserrado Majula B. Daramy, promised that she and her colleagues will put an end to the harmful practice.
She told the gathering that she has consulted with Muslim religious leaders in the country, who clarified that nowhere in the Koran does Mohammed talks about such practice.
Madam Daramy added that if only they knew by then that the practice was harmful, she would’ve stopped, but growing up, she saw her parents practicing FGM, so as a religious person, she had to get involved.
“Though it was difficult to convince my people to agree on the ban, by his grace, I managed to convince them; all I need now is for the International community to pay attention to me and my people. Paying attention to us, ain’t mean that besides them we cannot make it”, she said.
FGM is usually performed without permission and against victims’ will. It violates girls’ right to make important decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. At least 200 million girls and women alive today in 30 countries worldwide have been subjected to FGM.
However, The Chairperson of the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia (NACCEL) Chief Zanzan Karwor at the program called on Chief Zoe (traditional practitioner) Massa Kandakai and her group, Chief female Muslims Zoe Majula B. Daramy, and her group, and Paramount Chiefs, to agree in the public on the ban for the next three years, which they consented to.
Chief Zanzan Karwor assured all Zoes within Montserrado and surrounding areas that the ban has no political implication, so no one should say President Weah bans FGM for votes.
He warned that anyone challenging his authority will face disciplinary action from the NACCEL.
The Chief reiterated NACCEL’s commitment to ending FGM as evidenced by pronouncements of the three-year ban on FGM.
UN Women’s Country Representative, Ms. Comfort Lamptey said, FGM is one of the most brutal manifestations of the patriarchy that permeates the world and also serves as an abhorrent violation of fundamental human rights that causes lifelong damage to the physical and mental health of women and girls.
Ms. Lamptey said the act is rooted in the same gender inequalities and complex social norms that limit women’s participation and leadership and restrict their access to education and employment across the globe.
“On the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, let’s commit to social change and strong partnerships to put to an end female genital mutilation once and for all”, she urged.
Liberia’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr emphasized that FGM has been permanently closed down in Montserrado, but the practice continues elsewhere with initiation but without mutilation.
“The main thing we are concerned about”, Minister Tarr noted, “is no more cutting but every other thing that happened in our sande bush will continue to happen.”
Also reading the statement of progress achieved in FGM activities, Traditional Queen, Juli Endee said the process will continue in other counties to ensure that the necessary measures are put in place.
“We have 11 Counties that are practicing the FGM, for Montserrado we have done our traditional ritual practices for 19 days and nights to speak with our ancestors which allowed us to come to such decisions”, she said.
She explained that there are three kinds of Sande, including the Mua Sande that is practiced by Muslims, Zoebar Sande practiced by mask and the Kpowah sande practice that involves initiation without mutilation.
The Traditional Queen believes that the reason why it has been difficult to ban the practice of FGM I’m Liberia is because non-members of the culture have been instrumental in telling members what to do.
Madam Endee unveils that one of the oldest traditional institutions in the World but the lack of education has made many people explain things contrary.
Meanwhile, Jaha Dukureh, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa on ending FGM and child marriage, who also served as the launcher of the 16 Days campaign, pledged to help mobilize partnership support towards the construction of similar centers in remaining seven FGM-practicing counties, expressed happiness that FGM can be banned in Montserrado, Liberia for three years.
Amb. Dukureh thanked traditional leaders and international partners for the huge step taken and hoped that it can be extended to the remaining 10 counties practicing FGM in the country.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/government-to-end-fgm-in-montserrado-county/ Editing by Jonathan Browne