Liberia on Thursday imposed a one-year ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a extremely contentious subject within the West African nation, however campaigners mentioned it will not be enforceable.
The ban got here into pressure after former chief Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed an govt order earlier than stepping down.
The transfer acquired little publicity, overshadowed by Monday’s inauguration of Johnson-Sirleaf’s successor, former soccer star George Weah.
The ban makes it an offence to carry out FGM on anybody underneath 18 however it may well nonetheless be carried out on adults with their consent.
Campaigners mentioned FGM ought to be banned outright as even ladies who gave consent usually did so underneath stress.
“It is too early to celebrate as there is still a long way to go before there is zero tolerance to FGM in Liberia,” mentioned Grace Uwizeye, a guide with worldwide rights group Equality Now.
Activists have lengthy campaigned for FGM to be outlawed in Liberia, a rustic of about four.6 million folks, the place round half of ladies have undergone the process.
However, FGM has been an ungainly subject for Johnson-Sirleaf – Africa’s first feminine president – as a result of it’s overseen by a extremely secretive and politically influential ladies’s society.
Supporters say the ritual, involving the partial or whole elimination of the exterior genitalia, is a key ceremony of passage. But it usually causes well being issues and will be deadly.
In 2017, parliamentarians eliminated FGM from Liberia’s home violence invoice, saying it was a cultural matter.
According to an official assertion Johnson-Sirleaf mentioned on Jan. 19 that its omission undermined the regulation. Executive orders expire after a yr.
Campaigners have acquired demise threats for talking out concerning the apply which stays shrouded in taboo and is usually carried out throughout initiation ceremonies in bush faculties with ladies sworn to secrecy on their lives.
FGM is practised in practically 30 African international locations, in accordance with UN knowledge, despite the fact that nearly all have outlawed it.
Mackins Pajibo of Liberian group Women Solidarity Incorporated mentioned the ban was excellent news, however most likely not enforceable.
“We call on President Weah … to keep up the pressure for a permanent law which bans FGM completely for all women and children,” she advised the Media.
Lakshmi Moore, appearing nation director with ActionAid, mentioned there was lots to do in 2019 to push for a everlasting and enforceable ban.
“We know this is still a taboo topic in some communities, but we are seeing signs that attitudes are changing,” Moore mentioned.