Female Genital Mutilation Campaigner Storms Sande Society
-In Fear For His Life
The advocacy against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has suffered severe setback as a result of traditional people’s resistance to change. Due to cultural beliefs and norms traditional people continue to show attitudes of unwillingness and rebellion towards what they term as ‘abandoning their several-centuries-old inheritance.’
Reports also shows that the campaign against Gender-Based Violence (SGVB), on women and children that appears to be suffering similar hindrances in a country that is significantly patriarchal; where men are men and always right.For an FGM campaigner, Mr. Mohammed Z. Fofana, life has become miserable for him as he endures threats from traditional people for leaking a video involving their FGM practices, and whereabouts of him is unknown
In a press briefing over the week end, the head of Liberia’s Traditional Council of Chiefs denies allegations about the video leakage threats, but vows to arrest and persecute who so ever is behind the damaging of the cultural and traditional image of the people of Liberia.
Fofana, whose profile states that he is an eminent civil society activist and a promoter of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), gender equality and women empowerment as well as girls’ education in Liberia, has since fled for his life and his whereabouts are yet unknown.
His profile from colleagues also shows that he represented Liberia at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland in June, 2016 where he was acclaimed for being an eminent campaigner against FGM. The following year in February 2017, Mr. Fofana attended the UN Youth Assembly in New York USA, where he emphasized on protecting the rights of women, children and girls against FGM in addition to promoting the inclusion of women and girls in national politics to help germinate their hidden potentials to enable them contribute to more meaningfully to society.
It can be recalled that in 2011, the mutilated body of one Mr. Moses Kouloubah was found dead on the beach side in Zorzor Lofa County. It was alleged that the Poro society members may have masterminded his murder for his testimony against the secret society.
It was also alleged by bystanders, family members and friends that he was a member of the society and was missing for sometimes. However traditional chiefs in the area continue to deny their involvements in allegations of Moses mysterious death, adding that accusations against them for the death, was part of propaganda against the traditional people of Liberia.
Also on August 20, 2014, the group Action Against Female Genital Mutilation in Liberia (AFGM/LIBERIA) condemned the Traditional Council of Liberia, and called on the national government to provide for the protection and safety of anti-FGM advocate Rebecca Dennis, in the wake of her mysterious disappearance following hints that her life was under threats more than a fortnight ago, according to the rights group in a statement released from its central office in Monrovia.
Dennis, a rights activist whose brother Tom Nonny Dennis was discovered dead with parts mutilated in June 2009, has been vocal against the continuous harmful practice of female circumcision in Lower Lofa County- a region in Liberia noted for subjecting females to inhumane traditional practices, especially early marriage of girl children to their siblings, and the cutting off of their female genitals for rituals.
On February 6, 2017, an international day of zero tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Women Against Female Genital Mutilation (WAFGEM), a local women advocacy group were disappointed that despite 11 years of female leadership, and despite several calls from civil society organizations, Liberia has not been able to pass the anti- FGM law.
The celebrations was held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, the Chief Executive Officer of WAFGEM, Maima Robinson said the practice of FGM amounts to serious violations of the rights of girls as they are made to undergo forceful circumcision of their external genitalia.
“It is regrettable to note that even under the leadership of Africa and Liberia’s first female President, Liberia is yet to pass a law to end FGM,” said Robinson.
She also reminded President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of her September 27, 2015 public statement made at the Women Global Conference held at the UN General Assembly in the United States of America, wherein the President promised that before the end of her tenure she will ensure that a domestic violence bill is passed into law and that efforts will be made to also prohibit FGM and ensure women’s equal participation in politics.
“We as human rights activists are committed to building a solid and interactive bridge between government, civil society and traditional institutions to accelerate ending FGM in Liberia,” Robinson added.