After calls from local women groups in Liberia, including the Women Solidarity Incorporated (WOSI), Girls Alliance for Future Leadership, and the National Working Group Against Female Genital Mutilation (NAWOGA-FGM), asking lawmakers to enact laws to ban the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Liberia, a report has shown that not only Liberian women are campaigning against the harmful traditional practice, as women activists in India are also calling on their government to put an end to FGM.
According to VOA, three quarters of women among India’s Dawoodi Bohra sect have also undergone FGM, a practice of female circumcision. The study was published after officials said there was no data to support the existence of FGM in the country.
Activists therefore expressed the hope that after the large survey, there will be a law that will strengthen the ban on the secretive ritual, which they think causes physical, emotional, and sexual harm against women.
The Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi‘ite Muslim sect thought to number up to 2 million worldwide, considers the ritual, known as khafd, a religious obligation, although it is not mentioned in the Holy Koran.
The Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom said the study did not represent the views of most Bohra women.
The World Health Organization says FGM includes any injury to the genitalia.
“One mother told how she feared her daughter would bleed to death after she was cut. A third of women believed the procedure had damaged their sex lives. Others spoke of emotional trauma. Traditional women who practice the act told researchers, as reported by the VOA, how they have cut thousands of girls.
“The study has not just proven FGM does exist in India, but also shows how harmful it is. The procedure, which entails cutting the clitoral hood, is performed around the age of seven, must end because it is not healthy for women, physically, emotionally, and sexually,” according to the report.
India’s Supreme Court is considering a petition to ban the FGM, but campaigners were reportedly shocked in December when the women’s ministry told the court there was no official data or study supporting its existence.
Meanwhile, women groups in the country said it is disappointing that some women and girls are still being subjected to the ‘inhumane and gruesome treatment’ in the name of tradition or culture.
In Liberia, WOSI’s executive director, Mariam G. Deah, observes that such an act on the part of the legislature violates international instruments to which Liberia is a signatory that promote and protect women and girls’ rights, including ECOWAS, the AU Protocol, and the UN Chapter on Human Rights, and prohibit torture, discrimination, and all forms of violence against women and girls.
A local non-governmental organization, the Girls Alliance for Future Leadership, which focuses on the protection and advancement of teenage girls, said there is an urgent need for the Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary branches of government to abolish the age-old practice of FGM.
Recently, the head of the steering committee of NAWOGA-FGM, Maim D. Robinson, said Liberia needs to respect the provisions of the international treaties and conventions to which it is a signatory by putting a ban on harmful traditional practices that affect women and girls.