The Informer (Monrovia)

5 February 2013

Liberia Joins Global Battle Against FGM

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has by Proclamation declared Wednesday, February 6, 2013, as a day of "Intensifying Global Efforts for The Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation" to be observed throughout Liberia as a working holiday.

The Proclamation further urges all ministries and agencies of government, local and international organizations and the general public to join the Liberian National Association on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (NATPAH) in collaboration with the Awareness Action Groups (AAG's) and women organizations to plan and execute appropriate programs befitting the occasion.

This year's commemoration of Zero Tolerance of FGM will be celebrated under the global theme: "Intensifying Global Efforts for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation", while the event will be celebrated locally under the theme: "Intensifying National Efforts for the Elimination Of Female Genital Mutilation and Harmful Traditional Practices".

The Proclamation notes that NATPAL was founded for the promotion of gender equality and to contribute to the improvement of health status, social economic political, human rights and quality of life of women and children through the elimination of Harmful Traditional Practices (HTP's).

According to the Proclamation, the organizers and supporters of Zero Tolerances on FGM on the African continent considered such practice as unacceptable, barbaric, inhumane, traumatizing, and a practice that continues to create agony in the life of women in Africa and the world.

An international conference on FGM was held from February 4 to 6, 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and attended by representatives from 49 countries including the first ladies of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Nigeria as well as parliamentarians, African Union and other international organizations.

FGM is widely practiced in Liberia, especially in the hinterlands. Often young babies (female) and teen age girls are forced into the sande societies, where parts of their genitals are reportedly tampered with--often severed.

Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan and Internal Affairs Minister Blamo Nelson recently fell in trouble with lawmakers when they spoke against the practice. Until quite recently, it was a taboo to discuss FGM publicly in Liberia, but the global campaign has created room to discuss the issue, but still at a low pace.

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