FGM Banned in Nimba…As Zoes Turn over Traditional Materials to NACCEL

By: Lazota Bility

Gbanquoi, Nimba County: As part of efforts to ensure the eradication of female Genital Mutilation (FGM), several counties have joined forces to ban the practice across Liberia.

Nimba County is the four county to join the queue. It was a joyful but yet sad day in Gbanquoi town, near Saclepea in Nimba over the weekend when Traditional Zoes sang and danced while turning over their traditional materials relating to the practice of FGM to the National Council of Chiefs and Elders (NACCEL).

The turning over ceremony marked the indefinite suspension of the practice of FGM, as all other positive traditions of the Bush School remains cardinal to upholding the cultural values the county.

It can be recalled, on February 6, 2023, in Songay Town, Montserrado County, the head of the National Chiefs and Elders of Liberia Chief Zanzan Karwor in line with the Ministry of Gender and Children and social Protection and the Ministry of Internal Affairs pledged to end the practice of FGM in Liberia, to which four Counties have successfully concluded the implementation process.

The closure of Bush schools in the various counties is in support of the Elimination of FGM practices in Liberia
Implemented by the National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia ( NACCEL ) in conjunction with the Ministry of internal Affairs and Ministry of Gender , Children Social Protection with Technical Support from the Liberia Crusaders for peace LCP and funding support from UN Women Liberia and the Government of Sweden.

FGM is dominantly practiced by the Mende-man society in eleven of the fifteen counties of Liberia.

The practice has since led to psychological disorder and medical complications in many women who have been through the practice. Since the effect of the ban, practitioners of FGM have began to look to a new way of life that seeks the advancement and empowerment of rural women by creating an alternative livelihood.

Speaking at the banning and turning over program in Nimba, UN Women Country Representative Madam Comfort Lamptey lauded the efforts that all Zoes and Traditional Leaders are making across the country towards achieving the end of FGM.
“I want to say a big thank you to our Mothers and sisters for accepting to ban FGM. I actually want to appreciate Chief Zanzan for embracing change in making sure women and girls can enjoy their Culture in the absence of Female Genital Mutilation and stepping up to the Challenge”.

Madam Comfort Lamptey however pledged the UN Women’s support to promoting the alternative livelihood programs for Zoe’s and traditional leaders in the county.

Also Speaking, Swedish Embassy Program Officer Dwede Tarpeh however acknowledged the Zoes for taking the bold step to ban FGM. “Change is painful but change being directed in a right manner is great and powerful”, she added.

In addition, the head of National Coalition Against Harmful Practices Marian G. Deah
added, “Today, we are grateful that we can sit and talk about FGM and accept the Change. We want to say thank you to Chief Zanzan Karwor for helping to bring this change into a reality. To our Zoes, we hope that the change today will serve as a positive sign to all other Zoes out there”, Madam Deah added.

Responding further, the Zoes lauded NACCEL for efforts thus and pledged to uphold the culture values of Liberia through initiation without mutilation. “It was difficult to let go of something our parents left us with at first,
but today, we understood that we are well recognize and respected by the international community.

Additonsly, they thanked UN Women and partners for the support to promoting and enabling livelihood programs and ensuring their children can learn proper value in society,
“We are happy our suffering has come to an end , our Children will learned and be trained the proper ways”, the Zoes added.

For her part, Peace Ambassador and Traditional Queen Julie Endee and the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs encouraged the people of Nimba to take good care of the building giving to them by the partners as a cultural heritage center.

“Take it as your own and enjoy your Culture, respect the ban and live by it. Empower yourself get involved in Agriculture, Dancing, Singing, Soap making and Tie dying”.

Julie Endee is the peace Ambassador for Crusaders for peace and also the Traditional Queen of Liberia who work tirelessly in making sure the Traditional Zoes Cooperate and accept in other to give out their Female Genital Mutilation ( FGM ) materials willingly.

According to the 2022 UN report on FGM, 4.2 million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM. This figure has forced the UN body to rally the world’s support to ending the practice. Through Comprehensive approaches and partnerships, addressing gender discrimination and harmful social norms are essential to ending FGM in the world including Liberia which include passing and strengthening laws that ban FGM ensuring systematic data collection and monitoring of the practice; investing resources to implement laws and policies and also by supporting comprehensive services for women and girls who have undergone the practice.

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