Liberia’s new Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection Madam Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, alias “Peso” has declared war on sexual based violence, especially, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) throughout the country.
Speaking Monday, 26 February when she officially took office at the Gender Ministry in Monrovia, Minister Tarr says the decision to battle sexual based violence is to give Liberian women free space to think and become strong contributors to the growth and development of the state.
Female Genital Mutilation, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common.
According to the Minister, her background in civil advocacy for the rights of women is the supporting based for her fight in the defense of women and children.
Liberia imposed a one-year ban on FGM – a highly contentious issue in the West African country, but campaigners say it may not be enforceable. They urge President George Weah to push for a permanent law.
The ban came into force after former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed an Executive Order before leaving office. The ban makes it an offence to perform FGM on anyone under 18, but it may be carried out on adults with consent.
Global campaigners want the practice banned outrightly, as even women who gave consent often did so under pressure. When questioned about the cultural practices that allow female genital mutilation, Madam Tarr says her ministry knows how to channel its messages to the citizenry to observe the country’s traditional norms and customs.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne