Saturday, March 31, 2012

It is a shame that Liberia journalist is in hiding after genital mutilation exposé Published story on secret society's initiation rituals puts Liberian journalist in trouble,Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf please fight FGM like a human rights violation and not as a tradition or culture that is the only way to break the taboo!!. I believe in you.Amb by Lucy Mashua

Liberian journalist says she has been forced into hiding after lifting the lid on initiation rituals, including genital mutilation, by a secretive women's society.
Mae Azango, a reporter with Liberian daily Front Page Africa, published a story on March 8 in which a woman recounted how when she was a child she was held down and had part of her genitalia sliced off by members of the Sande Society.
The society is an initiation school where women and girls are sent to be mutilated and groomed to be prepared for marriage, as culture and tradition demand in the west African state, Azango wrote.
Azango's story was illustrated with pictures of initiated teenage girls emerging from the bush.
International media organisations and NGOs have called on government to step in, a difficult task for the regime as courts have no say in the matter. "The court cannot do anything in this case. It is part of the customary law so it is beyond the control of the judiciary," said Liberian lawyer Emmanuel Capeheart. "It is the law of the traditional people. Once you have violated it they can deal with you and the law cannot help you. If these women get Mae, they can carry her to the bush and she will stay there the longest, no one can go there to help."
The powerful secret societies, called Poro for men and Sande for women, are spread throughout west Africa. "Poro and Sande are responsible for supervising and regulating the sexual, social, and political conduct of all members of the wider society," according to the book Anthropology: What Does It Mean To Be Human by Robert Lavenda and Emily Schultz.
In a chapter on west African secret societies they say top members "impersonate important supernatural figures by donning masks and performing in public".
Girls taking part are bound to secrecy about what takes place during the initiation, making speaking about the societies extremely difficult. The woman in Azango's article, now aged 47, was forced to undergo initiation at 13 because of a crime committed by her mother in 1976.
Azango reported that 10 of Liberia's 16 tribes practice female Genital mutilation. "In Liberia, the female genital mutilation (FGM) is rampant and at the same time an open secret," said sociologist Emmanuel Ralph.
"Almost all the tribes in Liberia are involved in this practice. I know that this could be somehow strange to the western world but this is part of the African tradition. The government is afraid of touching the interest of traditionalists."
Information Minister Lewis Brown told AFP that the government had launched an investigation. "The government's attention has been seriously drawn to the report of threat against Miss Mae Azango... the director of police has been instructed to protect the journalist who is daily in contact with the police."
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is facing pressure on taboo issues such as female genital mutilation and homosexuality - especially after winning the Nobel Peace Prize last year. "We find it troubling that Liberia, boasting Africa's first female head, remains muted on the issue engulfed in controversy," Azango's newspaper Front Page Africa said in an editorial.
"We hope that the debate emerging out of reporter Azango's report will push government and society as a whole to educate the uninformed public about the dangers and risks involved."

My take on this that the only way we can overcome crimes against humanity especially on women commited in the name of "RELIGION, CULTURE,TRADITION " is to fight FGM and other atrocities as HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION!! I love my people, my heritage as an African woman, I am grateful for our rich healthy and moral culture and will never fight that all I do as the voice for the voiceless is fight against HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OF WOMEN, like FGM and VAW (violence against women)because it is a crime regardless of who is commiting it!!! I DON'T FIGHT MY PEOPLE, CULTURE OR TRADITION I ADORE MY HERITAGE I SIMPLY FIGHT AGAINST CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!!, I understand the position President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is in and am willing to help our first woman elected president and last year nobel prize winner to fight FGM as a human rights violation and educate our uneducated about human rights and complications that are permanently bestowed in someones life:(, and not as culture or tradition that is the only way we can win this.Do not be quick to judge President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf silence on this issue because as I say our people have two sides which they potray to foreigners and the reality of their day to day life, ONLY AFRICANS CAN REALLY IDENTIFY WITH WHAT AM SAYING.

Ambassador Lucy Mashua Assisting and advocating for U.S. refugees and women’s rightsGlobal Ambassador for Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)Leading the Worldwide Campaign Against FGMLobbying for HR 2221:The Girl's Protection Act sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley and Rep. Mary Bono Mack. and S 1919 introduced by Senator Harry Reid,