—Says ending FGM is essential to give girls control over their own lives
The UN Women Liberia has reaffirmed its continuous support in the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country.
The UN entity also called on Liberians to make sure that they do not turn their backs on the millions of women and girls who have been affected by FGM.
The advocacy against female genital mutilation originated on December 20, 2012, after a U.N. General Assembly resolution was reached calling on member states to identify global efforts to eliminate female circumcision and raise awareness against the practice.
The resolution recognized female circumcision as a violation of the human rights of women and girls reflecting deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.
Globally, it is estimated that some 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of female circumcision.
Although the practice is declining in some countries where it is prevalent, an estimated 68 million girls are at risk of being mutilated by 2030.
FGM entails the ‘partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injuries to female genital organs for non-medical reasons’ and is normally carried out between infancy and age 15.
It has no health benefits, but immediate and long-term health consequences are numerous: including infections and abnormal scarring, debilitating pain, or death.
In this vein, “I call upon the Government to reinforce efforts in renewing policies such as the Executive Order #92 suspending all FGM practices in Liberia. Ownership and commitment by all key stakeholders including traditional leaders, the Private Sector; Civil Society Organizations; Women’s Movement, is imperative to end all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful practices such as FGM,” Marie-Goreth Nizigama, UN Women Liberia Country Representative said.
Madam Nizigama made these statements recently when she spoke at the celebration of International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, held in Fortsville, St. John River District, Grand Bassa County.
She emphasized the danger of female circumcision, noting that survivors can often suffer from illnesses as a result of the operation.
“Sometimes these illnesses can lead to death,” Madam Nizigama said, pleading with the public to join the fight against the practice. “If we want our young girls to grow up safely and healthy, we need all levels of society to say no to FGM.”
She recalled that the Ganta, Nimba County policy signed in June 2019 to suspend all Sande Society activities including FGM for one year highlighted an increased level of traditional leaders’ commitment and ownership in ending FGM.
“I would like to extend a special gratitude to the European Union for its generous support to this event through the Spotlight Initiative, which is working to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in Liberia,” she added.
The E.U. Ambassador to Liberia, Laurent Delahousse, emphasized the dwindling number of African countries in which female circumcision is still legal: “Today in Africa, 41 countries used to practice FGM, but 37 have banned the practice – only 4 countries still practising, and Liberia is among those.”
He said while the Liberian government is taking some meaningful steps in its attempt to eliminate the practice, “The government cannot work alone, and it is not for the international community to impose things – it is for you, the people of Liberia, to change this practice. It is for your traditional leaders, the elders, and the women to work together.”