What Is the Status of FGM/C and the Liberian Ministry of Gender?

It was more than a year and a half ago when the Liberian Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection announced that she wanted female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) banned in her country.  Minister Julia Duncan Cassell told the Liberian Daily Observer in January 2016 that she was prepared to submit an Act to the Liberian National Legislature.  The Act was to have the practice of FGM/C criminalized in Liberia.  The aforementioned Act also included traditional practices associated with domestic violence in that country.

The Liberian Minister of Gender made that announcement not long after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had said that “Liberia’s human rights obligations must take precedence over any local practice considered to be ‘cultural’ or traditional’ where such practices are incompatible with human rights principles.” The U.N. High Commissioner had called on the Liberian Government to abolish any cultural or traditional practices that violate the human rights of people.  The traditional practices included female genital mutilation, forced initiation into secret societies, witchcraft accusations, and trials by ordeal and ritualistic killings.

The Minister of Gender had hoped that her Act would be passed into law, and that the practice of FGM/C would be criminalized in Liberia.  The Act also included that if a woman or girl did not consent to be cut or mutilated, it would be a criminal act.

It is certain that the Liberian Ministry of Gender realizes that in spite of the popularity of traditional practices in that country, some of such practices are dangerous to women, men and children alike.  The practices of FGM/C, domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence have taken on many other forms in today’s West Africa.  Although these traditional practices have been deeply rooted in Liberian society for over a century, those practices are still considered serious social evils and crimes against innocent women and girls in modern day society.

So, what really happened to the Act that was presented to the Liberian Legislature last year from the Minister of Gender to criminalize the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting?  According to reports, the Act presented was revised by the National Legislature of Liberia, by removing the Article to have FGM/C criminalized.  The Liberian Legislature passed all other Sections and Articles in the Act, but removed the references to FGM/C before passing it.

The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was established in 2001 by an Act of the Liberian National Legislature. This Ministry was established to serve as a driving force of the Liberian Government to practice the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its related instruments, including the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC); the AU Protocols on Women and Children, on Women Peace and Security; and the Beijing Platform for Action.
The Ministry was mandated to advise Government on all matters affecting the development and welfare of women and children as well as any other matters referred to it by the Liberian Government.  If this Ministry was mandated by the Liberian Legislature to secure the safety of women and children, and to seek the interests and welfare of women and children; how then did the same Legislature which appointed the Ministry overlook its recommendation to ban such a heinous practice against little girls?

Liberia remains one of the three West African countries that have continued the practice of female genital mutilation and cutting, without a law against it.  The practice of FGM/C is part of the traditional rite of passage to womanhood in that West African country, in spite of the fact that it is harmful, and in some cases, can cause death.  Only a few months ago, a 16-year old girl died as a result of undergoing FGM/C in Liberia.  The coroner’s report claimed that her death was due to natural causes, even though she hemorrhaged to death.  How then can that be considered a natural cause?

In her message to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015, the Liberian President made a commitment to banning gender violence, including FGM/C in her country.  It was commendable to see that President Johnson Sirleaf was going to keep her commitment in that regard.  However her Legislature had other ideas in mind.  The members of the Liberian Legislature embarrassed their President when they refused to honor her commitment to the U.N. General Assembly, when they deleted the Article on banning FGM/C from the Act presented by the Gender Ministry.  The problem with the Liberian Legislature and female genital mutilation and cutting is that majority of the Legislators are also members of the male traditional society, the Poro.  The Poro Society is the male partner society of the female Sande Society.  The Sande is the official practicing entity of FGM/C in Liberia.

The Global Woman Newsletter has run several stories about the practice of FGM/C in Liberia over the years.  The question remains, will this country ever criminalize this atrocious practice?  Liberia is currently in a competitive presidential campaign, with about twenty or more candidates, vying for the Liberian Presidency.  Everyone wonders why the current President, a woman has not banned this practice.  The fact of the matter is woman or man at the head of Liberia, there is no guarantee that she or he will ban FGM/C in that country.  As long as the Legislature is occupied by members of the Poro and Sande Societies, there will always be a question mark next to the banning FGM/C in Liberia.  As long as FGM/C remains a legal practice in Liberia, the Global Woman Newsletter will continue to speak out against traditional atrocities in that West African nation.

Send all comments and questions about the preceding article to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call (703) 818-3787. 

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation’s 2017 Calendar


  • Walk To End FGM registration – Now Open for Registration at globalwomanpeacefoundation.org, scroll down and click on the pink Register button
  • Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Mid-Year Board Meeting – July 29th
  • The launch of the education toolkit – Now Available at globalwomanpeacefoundation.org
  • Support/Focus Group Meeting – Will return in August
  • Vacances San Excision (Summer without Cutting) Camp – August 19th
  • Walk To End FGM – October 21st
  • Giving Tuesday – November 28th
  • Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Year-End Board Meeting – December 1st

We will update this calendar as the year progresses.  Please mark your calendars, as we work toward a prosperous 2017.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation FGM/C Support Group:  Our survivors’ support group meeting will resume in August.  These meetings are for women who are in the process of healing (emotionally and physically) and wish to receive emotional support in a group setting.  During support group meetings, participants can share any aspect of their stories that they wish to reveal and are showered with unconditional love and support.  In addition to scheduled group meetings, individual support meetings are available, recommended, and encouraged for any survivor who may not be ready or interested in attending group meetings.  To schedule one-on-one meetings, please contact us at the following email address info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call 703.818.3787 to inform us of your interest in attending individual sessions with one of our staff members.  Confidentiality, respect, and an abundance of understanding and unconditional acceptance are our fundamental objectives.  Our group facilitator is Willa Jones, Ph.D., a District of Columbia licensed professional counselor with over 20 years of experience.  The Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation staff person, who will also attend group sessions, is Amie Jallah.  You are invited to come out and let us support and celebrate your growth and progress at our group sessions in August, at 3920 Alton Place, NW, Washington, DC  20016 from noon until 1 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served.


Volunteers Needed:  Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is in search of volunteers for their 4th annual Walk to End FGM in the nation’s capital on Saturday, October 21, 2017.  Volunteers’ responsibilities are: Arrive early, set-up, on-site registration, T-shirt and bag distribution, oversee donations, supervision of the tents, coordinate pre-walk ceremony, seat speakers and guests, coordinate photo-ops and pre-walk interviews.  All volunteers will have free registration for the walk.  If you are interested in being a volunteer for the Walk To End FGM send an email to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org  and put in the subject line, “Volunteer”.

To volunteer, contact us at info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call 703-818-3787.  Register at www.globalwomanpeacefoundation.org and Walk to End FGM.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  As such, your donations and registration fees are tax deductible to the maximum extent required by law.


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Weekly Word-Scramble

Do you enjoy playing with words?  This is a fun way to see how well you can unscramble the following words.  We will reveal the unscrambled words in next week’s edition of the newsletter.  If you enjoyed this, write and give us your feedback to info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org.

Can you unscramble the following five words?

This Week’s Scrambled Words







Last Week’s Scrambled Words                               Last Week’s Unscrambled Words

PAPIHENSS                                                                        HAPPINESS

MARECIA                                                                            AMERICA

CEDALARTION                                                                 DECLARATION

NEDIPEDENCEN                                                              INDEPENDENCE

RECATOR                                                                            CREATOR

We give you five scrambled words each week.  We hope you enjoy playing.

How You Can Help & Support Us

Here are some of the ways you can help and support our programs in 2016:

  • Donations (including in-kind donations) globalwomanpeacefoundation.org
  • Partnering (collaborating in one of our programs and/or events)
  • Joining our Internship or Student-Ambassadorship Program
  • Volunteering
  • Donate through employer payroll deduction (through Your Cause, United Way or the government employee giving program)

The Global Woman Center Has Support Group Sessions

Support Group next session returns in August.  We invite you to join us at 3920 Alton Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 at 12:00pm.  Our Counselor on site is Willa Jones, and Amie Jallah is now in charge of the support group.  For one-on-one meetings, contact us for appointments at info@globalwomanpeacefoundation.org or call 703-818-3787.

Important Contacts in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area to Keep Handy

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation               703-818-3787

National Child Abuse Hotline                              800-422-4453

Fairfax County Office for Women                       703-324-5730

Virginia Crime Victim Assistance                        888-887-3418

Montgomery County Abused Persons Program   240-777-4673 (24 hours)

Prince Georges County Sexual Assault                301-618-3154

Prince Georges County Child Advocacy Center  301-909-2089

Baltimore City Child Abuse Center                     410-396-6147

Frederick County Child Advocacy Center           301-600-1758

Howard County Listening Place                          410-313-2630

Washington County Child Advocacy Center       240-420-4308

District of Columbia Metropolitan Police             202-727-9099

Alexandria Victim/Witness Program                    703-746-4100

Arlington County Victim/Witness Program         703-228-7273

Loudon County Victim Witness Program             703-777-0417

Prince William County Victim/Witness                703-392-7083

Attention: The U.S. government opposes FGM/C, no matter the type, degree, or severity, and no matter what the motivation for performing it. The U.S. government considers FGM/C to be a serious human rights abuse, gender-based violence, and, when done to children, a form of child abuse. It is against the law to perform FGM/C in the United States on a girl under the age of 18 or to send or attempt to send her outside the United States so FGM/C can be performed. People who violate this law can face prison time and significant immigration consequences. Additionally, anyone who performs FGM/C on a woman 18 years old or older without her consent may be charged with a crime under other laws.  If someone performed FGM/C on you, you have not violated any U.S. laws and are not at fault, call 1-800-994-9662.