The following article was originally published by and in the Liberian Daily Observer on September 16, 2016. The author is C.Y. Kwanue. Global Woman® Newsletter appreciates permission from the Liberian Daily Observer to run this article.
By C.Y. Kwanue
A newly established non-governmental organization (NGO), Vision Women Incorporated (VWI), yesterday formally launched an action against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), otherwise known as female circumcision.
Yesterday’s exercise was launched in Kpaiye Town, Boe Statutory District, Margibi County, with support from the Virginia Giddersleeves International Funds under the theme, “Breaking the Silence,” with the local slogan: “Allow the Girl Child To Go To School.”
FGM is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. This year, UNICEF estimated that 200 million women have undergone the procedure in 27 countries in Africa as well as in other parts of the world, with a rate of 80–98 percent within the 15–49 age groups in
Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.
VWI Executive Director Chris T. Jimmyton said the project was launched with the goal of creating awareness on the health effects of FGM on women and girls and to break the silence of FGM so that the practice will be discussed openly.
Ms. Jimmyton said the exercise is to further draw the full participation of and build support from community residents, especially women and girls, in the elimination of FGM.
“At the end of the project, it is expected that the beneficiaries will gain at least the desired knowledge on the health effects of FGM, to break the trivial silence associated with the practice of FGM,” Ms. Jimmyton said.
Yesterday’s ceremony was attended by a majority of women, 90 percent, some of them FGM practitioners from Kapiye Town and its catchment communities of Garmamu, Yekai, Kaiken, Bogetts, Nagbe, Ambush Curved Sand Town, Junckle Farm and Wrahjay.
“Our message to the participants is that they should not take the girl child to bush school, rather to take them to formal school. The bush school is a waste of time to formal education that will make the girl child to achieve in life,” said Ms. Jimmyton.
She said the message is for women not to hide the girl child and take her under the cover of darkness to ‘bush school.’ This, she said, is not good because it has the propensity of not only retarding the girl child’s academic achievement, but to also expose them to the dangers associated with the practice of FGM.
Earlier, the participants interacted with a representative from the Ministry of Gender, Social and Children Protection (who begged anonymity), who informed the women about the dangers the FGM practice pose to women, apart from retarding their learning progress.
In their separate statements, some of the participants, mainly the women, spoke of peer pressure that sometimes lead the girls to enter the ‘bush school.’ They also blamed ‘failed political promises’ – when so-called politicians would promise girls scholarships, but will not make good on their promises – as reasons for girls being taken to ‘bush school.’
Ishmael Walker, proxy for William Jallah, Director of Cultural Activities at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, informed the participants that the practice of FGM was now something of the past, “because then the exercise was considered to be good, but that is now something of the past.”
He added: “We are not against cultural or traditional practices, but are against the ones that have been outlawed, because they will impede the academic achievement of the girls.”
Kpaiye Town Chief Dolo Joe was represented by his secretary, Moses Gibson, who along with Town Chief Augustus P. Isaac and others expressed gratitude to VWI for the daylong program.
Mr. Gibson challenged the participants to serve as ambassadors by spreading the message on what the FGM does to the health and education of the girl child.