A press release from NWG stated that despite the continual commitments of the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as an advocate for women’s rights in Liberia, the fight against FGM continues to face series of challenges.
“On July 18, 2017, the House of Senate of the National Legislature of Liberia agreed with the lower House to pass the Domestic Violence Act with the deletion of its FGM component. Furthermore on Thursday, July 20, 2017, the Chairperson on Gender and Health at the Liberian Senate, former Minister of Health (Senator Peter Coleman) who is now a member of the 53rd legislature is quoted as saying that the issue of Female Genitor Mutilation (FGM) is a tradition and as such should not be refined”, the release stated.
The Group reminded President Sirleaf to reflect back on September 27, 2015 at the United Nations Global Women Rights Assembly in USA, where she gave hope to the women of Liberia and their international counterparts, stating: “I shall endeavor to ensure that a Domestic Violence law is passed which will include the eradication of FGM in Liberia before the end of my tenure”, the release state.
NGW admonished the President to consider Article 5b of the Liberian constitution which states that “Preserves protect and promote positive Liberian culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian society".
“The statement further concords with Article III of the Children Act of Liberia, Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and Article 5 of the Maputo Protocol on People and Human Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, all of which prohibits the practice of Female Genital Mutilation”, the release states.
NGW said that the mandate of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection is to implement all international instruments that protect and promote women’s and children’s right, but the decision of the Legislators for the removal of the FGM portion of the DVA which was crafted and submitted by the Gender Ministry and civil society actors created more doubt than answers.
The group said that Liberia is still amongst the only three African countries, out of 28 FGM practicing countries that has not legislated any law to criminalize the practice of FGM, and barely six months left on the tenure of this government, the President should consider the health implication which is far more than the cultural belief associated with the act and do something.
The release which was signed by sixteen civil society activist groups called on the President, the Legislature, the United Nation and all international partners to ensure that FGM is criminalized in Liberia,