FGM Erased from Domestic Violence Law

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Rep. Koffa holds copy of the Domestic Violence Law shortly after it was discussed.

–But Gender Ministry, AFELL want violators jailed for 25 years

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or women circumcision has been erased from the proposed Domestic Violence Law of 2014, and is therefore, not considered an act of domestic violence or abuse, rather traditionally and culturally to compromise with the country’s heritage.

The omitted FGM practice, which is considered harmful and painful, is not included in the Domestic Law to be described as a serious crime against an individual and society that take on many forms, including physical and sexual abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Representative J. Fonati Koffa, Joint Committee Chairman, told journalists that the FGM is particularly about women and is cultural, while the Domestic Violence is about the household.

On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, during the public hearing of the Domestic Violence law, many of the 13 lawmakers considered as “ambiguous the harassment component of the law,” which include repeated telephone calls to or inducing another person to make telephone calls, using the internet or other electronic means, to make unwanted or malicious communication and repeatedly watching or loitering outside or near the building where a person resides, works, carries on business or studies.

The lawmakers also argued that the “emotional, verbal and psychological abuse” are ambiguous, which means, in the law, a pattern or one time occurrence of degrading or humiliating conduct towards a person, including any behavior that causes emotional damage and reduction of self-esteem, or that harms and disturbs full development, or that aims at degrading or controlling a persons’ actions.

In separate remarks, River Gee County Superintendent Philip Q. Nyenuh and Grand Bassa County Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh, thanked the House Joint Committee, but urged them to approve the law in reasonable time.

Madam Frances Greaves, chairperson, National Civil Society Council of Liberia, said the Domestic Violence Bill should be passed to serve as a deterrent, “because many children have been threatened not to talk whenever they are being abused.”

Lawmakers who participated in Wednesday’s public hearing were Representatives Koffa, chairman on Judiciary; Julie F. Wiah, chairperson on Gender; Larry Younquoi, chairman on Good Governance; and Rosana Schaack, the chairperson of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Others are Representatives Ellen Attoh Wreh, Dorwohn Gleekia, Gunpue L. Kargon, Joseph Matthews, Beyan Howard, Clarence Massaquoi, Byron Zahnwea, Ceebee C.D. Barshell, and Joseph Somwarbi.

Gender Minister Wilhelmina Saydee-Tarr has recommended an amendment in the draft law, which was proposed by the leadership of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL.)

AFELL suggested that the offense of domestic violence is a felony of the first degree, where rape occurs and carries a mandatory jail time of a minimum of 25 years.

Meanwhile, Rep. Koffa has announced that the draft budget, following the public hearing, will be presented to the Joint Committee on Monday, July 1, and will be subsequently submitted to the House Plenary for approval.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The out of touch House of Representatives are at it once again . Since the unlawful impeachment of a sitting Justice by removing the Female Genital Mutilation from the Domestic Violence Law, and claiming that the law is only meant for the ” household ” . But for the past 12years, Liberian women organizations have been reaching out through education to the native cultural society responsible for the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. And there is a breakthrough as published by the Daily Observer that the traditional leadership of the country is calling for a ban on that native cultural practice by both male and female societies. For 12 years, since the establishment of constitutional rules on law and order, followed by the women organizations education concerning FGM , the House failed to call both native cultural societies to find out from them on what reasons do they have that may keep the legislature from banning the FGM in the country ? And if the practicing societies are aware of the psychological consequences on the victims about such practiced ? The Traditional leaders are not calling for a ban on FGM , no they are not calling for that . The reason they are calling for a ban on all activities has nothing to do cultural practice, but more to do with the constitution , with respect to the rights of the individual. Through the education that they have received from the women organizations, the Traditional leaders have actually come to realize that children, young girls and young boys, most time under age children are successfully brought into the natives societies by some kind of social psychological pressure by their parents , because they too were at one time part of that very society and through the same changes for all members. Today they are seeking direction on how to reconcile the constitutional rights of the individual and the centuries old native traditional practiced of the land. Can the out of touch legislators see that opportunity and help address their concerns between what is the law in respect to individual rights and the national native cultural societies ? Can they take advantage of that proposed banning and address the FGM which is practiced by one of the traditional societies ? Can they do just that as the Traditional leadership seems prepared to abide by the rules of law in respect to the individual rights ? And perhaps more ?

    • James David all I can say is, bless you! The people are not researching, they are completely out of touch! This House, I am telling you this House is the real problem Liberia has! SAD!

    • Lets banned the Catholic Church because under age boys are being sexually abused.
      Is this your Logic?

  2. What are we saying? this should not be any discussion on not to pass this law. a friend I knew in 2010 was found died few weeks after he ran to get his daughter that was taken to the FGM bush by force, another was beaten for speaking out directly to the traditional people in a town to stop the act just 2hours after speaking, one of my girl friends who died during the last war told me she was force 1997 to under go FGm and it was painful but she had told since her grand mother said that was the only way she would be call a woman or be part of the family. why can’t THERE BE A LAW TO BAN fgm ONCE AND FOR all. I support putting an end to FGM. to serve the pain, secret beating and torture of people. what are the legislature waiting for to pass this law? one day this thing will come to an end by God’s help. thanks

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