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CSO, EU Want Justice For FGM Survivor

By Bill W. Cooper
The Civil Society National Reference Group on the Spotlight Initiative is calling on the government of Liberia to speedily investigate and prosecute perpetrators involved in the cutting of an 11-year old girl in Margibi County.
With support from the European Union (EU), the group condemned as it termed as “wickedness and violations of child rights” of alleged forceful Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) practice and cutting of the minor.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, the Group’s Chairperson, Tamba F. J. Johnson, said “Our attention has been about the conscription of an 11-years old girl on instruction of Chief Zoe, Ma Famatta Musa of Margibi County on September 15, 2022.”
He said based on intervention of one Rev. Tour and other activists, the victim was recused on October 3, 2022, and taken to hospital where she currently undergoing medical attention.
“Though it is true that traditionalists have resolved to continue their ancestors’ practice, particularly FGM in Liberia, however, respect for the rights of women and girls must be considered and respected.
“No person, irrespective of his or her traditional or civil status has the right to conscript, dehumanize, abuse or violate any woman or girl, in adherence to ancestors’ practice of FGM, simply because they came in contact in practical performance,” he stressed.
According to him, in July of 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted “resolution 44/16 on the elimination of FGM practice in Liberia, to speed up efforts to reach zero tolerance for FGM by 2030 and to restate the global ban on the harmful practice, as it constitutes a serious violation of women’s rights.”
He added, “And this call by the United Nations is in affirmation to Article 5 of the Maputo Protocol and Article 5b of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.”
Johnson indicated that the EU and the United Nations have spent over US$22 million in Liberia under the Spotlight Initiative intended to minimize and eradicate harmful traditional practices across the country and as such, they will not allow women and girls’ rights to keep being tampered upon.
He then reminded the government as a signatory to all human rights instruments, including CEDAW, Maputo Protocol, Human Rights Protocol, as well as founding member of the UN, should not keep violating rights of women, girls and marginalized groups.
“We totally condemn the conscription of this 11-year old girl and all other women and girls into FGM and call for immediate and prompt justice for this 11 years old child,” the CSO Group head maintained.
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Liberia, Laurent Delahousse, said he supports the CSO Group’s call for justice for the 11-yr-old girl, stressing, “I think it is time to convince traditional people to focus on good practices of the Sande society and stop its harmful ones.”
For her part, Ma Kebbeh Mulbah, a member of the rural and traditional group, called on traditional people to adhere to the call from civil society and stop all harmful practices affecting underage girls.
She maintained that candidates should be 18 or above and give consent before initiation with emphasis on good practices such as teaching young girls to be good housewives and how to cater to the family.
It can be recalled that during the observance of International Day of Zero Tolerance on FGM on February 4, 2022 in Gbarnga, Bong County, several representatives of traditional chiefs and elders from all 11 practicing counties of FGM, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs among others signed a three-year ban, thereby suspending the practice of FGM in Liberia.
Additionally, the three-year suspension strictly prohibits the practice of FGM in the country, while calling for violators caught to be apprehended and penalized, but this is not happening, according to the Civil Society Organizations.

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