Liberia: Enact a comprehensive anti-FGM law

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Ruth Berry Peal with her lawyer

22 JANUARY 2018 UPDATE: On her last day in office, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed an executive order on the Domestic Violence bill to ban FGM on girls under 18 years old. However, the ban is only in effect for one year and provisions on age of consent create a legal loophole that fails to protect women over 18. Additionally, the punishments include rehabilitation and fines which are determined on a case by case basis -- none of which will not deter practicing communities. Traditional leaders have significant power and influence over Liberian community and often over policymakers. Once girls reach age 18, they will face immense pressure to undergo FGM in order to remain in the community.  Though Sirleaf's action was an important step towards a universal ban on FGM in Liberia, it is not enough. Please call on new President George Weah to enact a comprehensive anti-FGM law! 

Equality Now is calling on the Government of Liberia to enact a law banning female genital mutilation (FGM) and to ensure the justice in Ruth Berry Peal’s case. In July 2011, the members of the politically influential Sande secret society who had kidnapped and forcibly subjected Ruth to FGM were sentenced to three years imprisonment; however, they appealed the judgment and were released on bail. The appeal has been pending at the Supreme Court with no hearing date set and the perpetrators remain free.

Despite Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s pledge to make women’s rights and health a national priority, recent steps by the government to suspend Sande activities and the government’s stated willingness to work on an anti-FGM law, reports of mutilations continue with a lack of government intervention. This lack of a unified stance by government officials undermines the efforts the government is making to end FGM.

Please call on Liberian authorities to ensure that Ruth Peal’s case is speedily concluded and that that the government’s suspension of Sande FGM activities is enforced. Furthermore, call on them to enact and enforce comprehensive legislation against FGM as well as supporting educational outreach to relevant communities and local chiefs on the harms of FGM.

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