Liberia: Children Parliament Frowns On FGM Practices

A member of the Liberia National Children Representative Forum (LNCRF) Emmanuel G.W. Barzon says the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or {FGM} in Liberia is not only harmful, but affects women and girls in the society.

"With this, I stand to say "No to FGM, it is a harmful practice, because it has no health benefits, and it harms girls and women in many ways" he notes.

In a news release, the Forum says FGM is a practice that involves partially or wholly removing and injuring healthy and normal female genital tissue, interfering with the normal functions of girls' and women's bodies, adding that the practice is a harmful practice and unacceptable from a human right and public health perspective, regardless who performs it.

According to Barzon, Article 21.1 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of a Child (ACRWC) says, state parties (government) shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of social and culture practices affecting the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of a child.

He also references Article 24.1 of the 2011Children's Law of Liberia, which he says gives every child right to participating in cultural activities that are in his or her best interest besides Article 36 of the United Nations Convention on the Right of a Child (UNCRC) which states that children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development.

The Children Forum Representative notes that FGM can lead to immediate health risk as well as a verity of long-term complications affecting girls and women's physical, mental and sexual health and well-being throughout the life course.

He continues that studies have shown that girls and women who have undergone FGM are more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression and somatic (physical) complaints (e.g. aches and pains) with no organic cause.

Even though FGM may be normative and considered to be of cultural significance in Liberia, the practice is always a violation of human rights, with the risk of causing trauma and leading to problems related to girls' and women's mental health and well-being", Barzon concludes. Press release

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