The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Anti-FGM Activist Alarms Over Threat On His Life …After Being Held Hostage By Traditional Leaders For 6-Days


A young Liberian Anti-FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) activist, has alarmed over threats on his person by some traditional leaders in Liberia, for his unbending advocacy over the need to abolish the harmful traditional practice of FGM.

Activist James G. Mulleh, Jr told the INQUIRER Newspaper that he was taken hostage by traditional leaders in Grand Cape Mount County in September after they became furious when (he) James openly spoke on the disadvantages of having young girls and children been initiated into the Sande society, thereby going through FGM that has negative consequences on their health and well-being.

He disclosed that the traditional leaders took a team of young anti-FGM activists at hostage demanding that they all would stay in Grand Cape Mount County for initiation to the Poro and Sande societies respectively.

As a result of playing lead-role, James was seized and held hostage by the Grand Cape Mount traditional leaders for extra days, after the traditional actors released his colleagues who accompanied him on the advocacy sojourn.  James further narrated that he was kept in secret confinement for six days without access to food and safe drinking water.

“With assistance from a young traditional leader, I was able to escape overnight through the bushes on September 10, 2019 and made my way to Monrovia when I reported the matter to the authorities. As an advocate for women’s rights and HeForShe champion, I made several follow-ups with the relevant authorities regarding this matter, but there was no redress. I therefore decided to take to the airwaves to openly discuss the elimination of HTPs in Liberia on September 20, 2019.”

James said: “My action immediately prompted traditional authorities to come after me for the purpose of eliminating me. Exactly (two months) after the Grand Cape Mount incidence, following one of my intellectual discourse sessions with young boys and girls in Margibi County in November 2019, there was an attempt by traditional leaders of that county to kidnap and eliminate me while en-route to Monrovia.”

“I was later alerted that some traditional actors had planted some of their followers along the route back to Monrovia to eliminate me, but thankfully, with support from others who accepted the idea of abolishing FGM and other HTPs, I managed to divert my route, and took to a hideout for fear of my life. I was later smuggled out of Margibi County, one of the highly practiced FGM counties.”

According to James, upon return to his Monrovia’s residence, he was again alerted by a source that the traditional leaders had reportedly paid some gangsters to have him killed, cautioning that he vacates the terrain along with his family.

“At this point, and for the safety of my family, I immediately absconded my home to a hideout. We stayed there and later informed authorities about the threats on my person and the constant intimidation but nobody seems to develop interest. To date, my family has continued to be threatened and their living condition has become unstable as they relocate frequently for their safety.”

“I have been involved in advocacy for the rights of women, girls and children since 2000 at a tender age during the regime of former President Charles Ghankay Taylor. Due to my robustness and fearless stance against HTPs, I gained further recognition and was given an opportunity to play an advocacy role at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in 2006.”

“Since my acceptance, I have robustly engaged with all actors, particularly with civil society organizations (CSOs) involved with the workings to bring to an end female genital mutilation and other HTPs, including early marriage. I was tasked with CSOs in the counties that have high cases of HTPs or counties that practiced FGM in order to work closely with traditional leaders and Zoes (female practitioners) to mitigate the practice and build on the positive values of the Sande society,” James explained.

Activist James also recounted how his wife became a victim of such practice, of which, he said, she was forced by traditional leaders and Zoes in 2016 into the Bush School where she went through the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which he noted had caused her serious complications.

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