Woman Dies in Liberia Due To FGM/C Sande Bush Initiation

There is a rising situation of the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting in the Tappita District in the Liberian County of Nimba.  On March 25th, a woman died in the Sande Bush as a result of an initiation in the traditional society called the Sande Bush Society.  The Sande Society is a powerful and deeply rooted traditional society in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.  This society in those countries control and conduct the practice of FGM/C.

Nimba County is located in the North-Central part of Liberia.  Tappita is one of the six districts of that county.  Beside the Capital City, Sanniquellie, Tappita is the most visited area of Nimba County.  It is not considered one of the remotest parts in Liberia.  There are more than 462,000 people who populate the 4,460 mile county.  The other feature of Nimba is that it is the home to the highest mountain of Liberia.  Unlike some other Liberian counties, such as Lofa, Bong and Cape Mount, Nimba has not been known for the prevalence of FGM/C.  Now with the rise of FGM/C practice in Tappita, Nimba joins the other prevalent counties in the practice of FGM/C.  Does this mean that the growth of the Sande Society is escalating instead of fading?

Last week while Liberian investigators were wrapping up their investigation in Nimba County on the case of the dead woman, right in the Great Lakes state of Michigan, the FBI made a couple of arrests of doctors and their accomplices for practicing FGM/C in that Mid-Western state.  Those arrests in the U.S. sent a message to those who elect to break the law against FGM/C that there will be zero tolerance of the practice.

Liberia needs to take a lesson from the U.S. arrests and clamp down on the rampant practice of FGM/C in that country.  Although a woman died last month as the result of that practice, the Liberian investigators will not rule her death due to FGM/C.  What more will it take for the leaders of Liberia to wake up and get on board with other countries in banning FGM/C?  How many deaths must occur in that country before a law is passed to ban the practice of FGM/C?

It has been reported that young women who resist and refuse FGM/C, the village can charge their families with disgracing the tradition in their community. For the traditional families, it is said to be an ‘abomination’ and an outright disobedience to the culture. According to reports, women who reject FGM/C are threatened with death or can suffer physical assault, such as rape as the penalty.  There have been reports of mysterious deaths of women who have gone against FGM/C.  Statistics in 2015 from the United Nations Mission of Liberia (UNMIL) show that 58% of women in Liberia have experienced FGM/C.  Those numbers have increased in two years to 66%.

Liberia is one of three countries in Africa that have remained stubborn to ban the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting.  Something that is little known about the practice of FGM/C in Liberia is that the people practicing it in that country tend to hide behind tradition and culture.  The initial purpose very well might have been based on tradition and culture.  However tradition and culture have been overtaken by personal sustainability and livelihood.

The excisors make their living by brutally cutting innocent little girls as well as young women.  In addition to the economical purpose of the practice of FGM/C, there is also the dark, demonic ritualistic practice which the Sande Society Bush carries out.  There is a far deeper meaning to the shedding of blood by the girls and the rituals of what is done with the excised parts of the girls.  This is why they do not want the girls to divulge their experiences to anyone when they leave the Sande Bush.  There is a great deal of deeply rooted secrecy in the Sande Bush, which the Western World does not yet know.

In more recent years, the parents and the excisors have started performing FGM/C on the girls at a much younger age than seven years old to fifteen.  They are now cutting them as early as infancy and toddler ages.  Their intent is to keep the girls from remembering what happened to them.  There are many girls who do not know that they were cut until they visit a physician in their adult years.

Leaders of Liberia get with the program of the rest of the world and put a ban on the practice of FGM/C.

Nimba, Liberia

For comments and questions about this article, email info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org and follow us on Twitter and like us on FaceBook.