Liberia

Lawless Liberia: Legal Failure Renews Global Calls For Female Genital Cut Law (Front Page Africa)

6/3/2013 -- Front Page Africa -- “Lawless Liberia: Legal Failure Renews Global Calls For Female Genital Cut Law”; Advocacy Programme Director-FGM,  Efua Dorkenoo on renewed call for anti-FGM in Liberia and the case of Ruth Berry Peale:

Justice for Ruth Berry Peal, but still no ban on FGM in Liberia (Independent)

4/8/2013 -- The Independent -- "Justice for Ruth Berry Peal, who was forcibly mutilated in Liberia, but still no ban on FGM" Over 58% of women have already undergone FGM in Liberia, where the powerful Sande secret society continues to carry it out on young girls.

Kidnappers jailed for forcing Liberian woman to undergo FGM in Liberia (TrustLaw)

3/12/2013 -- TrustLaw -- "Kidnappers jailed for forcing Liberian woman to undergo FGM"; Efua Dorkenoo discusses progress in the case of Ruth Berry Peal and the urgent need for continued action.

Nairobi Office Director Faiza Mohamed on how moves to 'medicalize' FGM jeopardise decades of work to eliminate it (WNN)

1/18/2013 -- Women News Network -- "Moves to medicalize female mutilation could destroy ‘Stop FGM’ advocacy"; Nairobi Office Director Faiza Mohamed on how moves to 'medicalize' FGM jeopardise decades of work to eliminate it entirely. 

The importance of integrating human rights issues into international policy-making (TrustLaw)

11/12/2012 -- TrustLaw -- "The Word on Women - Why it is important to integrate human rights into international policy-making"  Advocacy Director, FGM Program Efua Dorkenoo on integrating human rights issues - particularly those which affect women and girls such as FGM - into policies relating to international trade and financial aid.

Liberia: Enact a law banning FGM as a matter of urgency

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 Jun 26
Update Date: 
2013 Mar 12
Update: 

25 MARCH 2015 UPDATE: In the two years since the Liberian High Court upheld the decision against the members of the Sande secret society who had forcibly-mutilated Ruth Berry Peal, the assailants have yet to be arrested and imprisoned. Instead, they are residing and working freely in Monrovia and Bomi (Bomi is the same county where Ruth and her family live). Ruth, meanwhile, still suffers from the trauma and continues to receive verbal and physical abuse from her community who are tormenting her for exposing the secrets of their culture. Our partner, Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET), has raised the failures in the case with Liberia’s Ministry of Justice but no action has been taken.

On a positive note, as a result of an indefinite government ban on Sande School operations to help curb the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, FGM has reportedly been reduced in Liberia. During a February meeting with WOLPNET, the Traditional Council adopted a resolution pledging to only initiate girls at the age of consent and stopping forceful FGM initiations. However, this still does not go far enough; FGM is a human rights violation that should not be performed on any women or girl regardless of their age or granting of consent. Equality Now continues to advocate for zero tolerance for FGM and system to ban it in Liberia.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf also continues to speak out on the issue of violence in Liberia, including FGM. At an international event on gender equality this month, she publicly stated, "too many of our countries have yet to muster the courage to ban the irreparable harm inflicted by genital mutilation on young girls in traditional societies." The Liberian Minister for Gender also spoke on the topic during a radio interview, stating "we are working with our traditional people to see how they can learn from what people have done in other countries that practice similar rituals so that they can now see how they can empower themselves to move away from FGM."

We are hopeful that these types of declarations from the highest levels of the Liberian government will finally result in a law banning FGM. Equality Now and our partners are engaging with policy makers to fulfill on their pledges to adopt a law and to ensure that survivors of FGM such as Ruth are able to access justice and health services. Please renew the call for justice and security for Ruth and her family, and for a law against FGM in Liberia.


MARCH 12, 2013 UPDATE: On 17 January 2013, Ruth Berry Peal's lawyer, Deddeh Wilson, informed Equality Now that she had filed a motion requesting the court to dismiss the defendant’s appeal of their jail sentence for failure to complete the appeal process. On 24 January 2013, the court dismissed the appeal case on grounds that 'the defendants did not file an approved bill of exceptions or did not secure the approval of the trial judge on the purported bill of exceptions.' On 26 February, the court issued a letter commanding the Sheriff of Montserrado to arrest the defendants.

Although Ruth has finally gotten justice for being forcibly mutilated, it has not been easy for her, as she continues to receive threats.  Mrs Speare, director of Women NGO Secretariat Liberia (WONGOSOL), stated that social and cultural circumstances in Liberia do not allow girls and women to oppose FGM or to escape, though girls sometimes resort to running away and hiding due to the lack of laws to protect them from the practice.  Ruth has been advised by the gender ministry to relocate to Monrovia but is reluctant to do so because her husband and children still live in Bomi, Liberia. Therefore, we are calling on the Liberian government to support and protect Ruth, as well as to build on indications made by the Minister for Internal Affairs in 2011 to enact and enforce a law banning FGM as a matter of urgency.


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What You Can Do: 

>> TAKE ACTION NOW! Please join Equality Now and our Liberian partners, Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) and Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), in calling on Liberian authorities to:

  • Ensure that Ruth Berry Peal’s case is swiftly and justly concluded
  • Ensure the enforcement of  the government’s suspension of Sande FGM activities
  • Honor Liberia’s international and regional human rights commitments by enacting and enforcing comprehensive legislation against FGM, as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to:

H.E. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf    
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 644 4696 
Email: ebfasama@emansion.gov.lr
etoles@emansion.gov.lr

Hon. Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box  0123
Ashmun Street   
Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 669 7205
Email: sannohb@aol.com

Hon Julia Duncan Cassell
Minister for Gender and Development
P.O. Box 10-1375
110 UN Drive & Gurley Street
1000 Monrovia 10
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 651 6434  
Email: libgenderminister@gmail.com

Hon Dr. Henrique Tokpah
Minister of Internal Affairs
Executive Mansion Ground
Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Tel: +231 651 3358 
http://www.mia.gov.lr

With a copy to: Special Assistant Mr. Jefferson F. Cooper
Email: nfcooper68@gmail.com
http://www.mia.gov.lr

Letters: 

Dear [   ]

I welcome steps by the government to suspend Sande FGM activities. However, I am alarmed that a law banning FGM is still not in place despite declarations from the highest levels of the Liberian government in support of an end to harmful traditional practices.

President Sirleaf’s pledge to make women’s rights and health a national priority in Liberia, but the lack of a unified stance by government officials undermines the efforts the government is making to end FGM.

I urge you to ensure that the government’s suspension of Sande FGM activities is enforced. Furthermore, please honor Liberia’s international and regional human rights commitments by enacting and enforcing comprehensive legislation against FGM as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM.

I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Liberian Jury Delivers "Guilty" Verdict on Ruth Berry Peal's Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11 July 2011
Contact: NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20 271-9832/913, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org
NEW YORK: Karen Asare, (01) 212-586-0906, media@equalitynow.org

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