On Liberia’s 170th Natal Day and FGM/C Remains a Legal Practice

By A.M. Peabody

Tomorrow marks the 170th year since the Liberian Declaration of Independence was signed and that country celebrated its independence from the American Colonization Society.

Some Liberians here in the U.S. began the celebrations in observance of their independence day last Saturday, while others will celebrate this Saturday.  The Liberians in the Washington, D.C. area celebrated on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C.  This year they did not have to contend with 97 degree temperature with humidity.  As the celebrations began, Liberians emerged on the 16th Street and Colorado Avenue Embassy grounds in Northwest Washington, garbed in colorful traditional attire.  The aroma of various scrumptious Liberian cuisines filled the air in the afternoon.

It was not difficult to miss the performance of the cultural dancers, most especially the masked and grass skirted performers.  I recall my childhood years in Liberia when the cultural and masked dancers came to perform in our front yard.  They were the most frightful sight I had seen at my young age.  I was terrified of the masked and grass skirted dancer, who started off as a short object on the ground; and suddenly he began to grow right before our eyes until he was an eight-foot giant.  He danced as he kicked up dirt, spinning vigorously.  We referred to that scary object as the “devil”.  When my mother wanted to persuade me to eat my meal or do what she wanted me to do, she threatened to call the “devil” and I obeyed without hesitation.  I think every Liberian child was fearful of the so-called “devil”.

As I embraced womanhood and discovered that female circumcision, the “devil” and the Poro and Sande Bush Societies were all interconnected.  The very “devil” I so dreaded as a child belonged to GreGre (Grebo) Bush, where little girls were taken to be circumcised (female genital mutilation/cutting).

Although my mother used the cultural “devil” to get me to be obedient, she would have never turned me over to him or her to be cut.  Little did I know at the time that there were indeed some Liberian mothers who actually took their daughters to the Sande Bush.  Little did I know that several decades later, it would be my fate to become an ardent activist against the very act the owners of the cultural “devil” did in secrecy to little girls.

So as Liberia proudly celebrates 170 years of being an independent Republic, I wonder if the hundreds of circumcisers (excisors) will take a break from the Sande Bush today.  The children are out of school during this time of the year; and that means it is high season for the Sande Bush.  Will they close down the Sande Bush for a day to celebrate their independence day?  They probably will break for celebrations and return to their blades the next day.  After all, tomorrow is a national holiday in Liberia.  But will the women miss a day of making their living?  A circumciser can earn up to Five Hundred U.S. Dollars a day, depending on the number of girls she cuts.

Liberia is one of three countries in Africa that have remained stubborn to ban the practice of female genital mutilation/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.  Beside the excisors making their living by brutally cutting innocent little girls, the Liberian Legislature continues to uphold the legality of the practice of FGM/C in that country.

In addition to the economical purpose of the practice of FGM/C, there is also the dark, demonic ritualistic practice which the Sande and Poro Society Bushes carry 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 know.

I have celebrated Liberia’s Independence Day, July 26th since I remember myself as a child.  I recall delivering the Liberian Declaration of Independence on July 26th when I was only ten years old.  It was my very first public speaking gig.  Unfortunately, I find it difficult to celebrate tomorrow with other Liberians both in the diaspora and in Liberia.  We should not be celebrating while little girls live in fear of being cut in the Sande Bush; and we certainly should not be celebrating tomorrow while little girls lose trust in adults and their leaders because they live in a country without laws against FGM/C.

In light of that, I will not be saying the familiar phrase tomorrow, “Happy 26th”.  Instead, I will say, “Sad 26th” to every other Liberian native tomorrow.  I will continue to say “Sad 26th” until the law to ban the practice of FGM/C is passed by the Liberian Legislature. I take this opportunity to appeal to the Leadership of Liberia and ask that they seriously consider placing a ban on the practice of FGM/C in that country.  As they celebrate tomorrow, I hope they will think long and hard and consider in putting the safety of girls before their demonic practices.  Meanwhile, I say, Sad 26th everyone!

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
  • NANBPW 81st Convention in Fort Worth, Texas – July 19th through 24th
  • Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Mid-Year Board Meeting – July 29th
  • The education toolkit – Now Available at https://www.globalwomanpeacefoundation.org/prevention-school-resource-fgm-toolkit/
  • Support/Focus Group Meeting – August 5th
  • Vacances San Excision (Summer without Cutting) Camp – August 19th
  • IAC-USA Benefit Dinner – August 26th
  • 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 is on August 5th.  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.

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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

VICALERC                                                                            CERVICAL

TALANERP                                                                           PRENATAL

APP MESAR                                                                         PAP SMEAR

COLOGEYNYG                                                                    GYNECOLOGY

VICEPL XEMA                                                                    PELVIC EXAM

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

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The Global Woman Center Has Support Group Sessions

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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.