FGM in Liberia

Before the Civil War , female genital mutilation was not common in all Liberian cultures. The 14-year civil war not only ruined the physical infrastructure such as roads, schools and water and medical supplies, but also the cultural infrastructure of the peoples.

Culture is man-made second nature, without which nobody can live. The core of every culture is the trust and solidarity of people, because only their creativity makes them appear stronger than animals and other dangers from nature.

Liberia is home to numerous and diverse cultures.

With the conquest of the Liberian Republic at the turn of the 20th century and the increasing geopolitical interest of the USA in this special colony of former slaves, it became almost impossible for the local ethnic groups to continue with their way of life and economy.

First, the monetization through jobs at Firestone and other companies caused a profound generation conflict in the clans and families. The expansion of the state administration created a second power structure nationwide, which was built in parallel and in contrast to the traditional, religiously anchored structure.

This new nation-state came with a connecting language (Kolloqua, Vernicular English) and a globally integrated consumer and educational culture that was especially attractive for young people. Throughout the country, the balance of power shifted towards corruption-friendly elites.

Those who worked well with the government got away best.

The law served the purpose of oppression and to this day ensures that the police and state organs are not seen as protectors, guarantors of law and order, but as representatives of injustice and oppression The law became part of the problem instead of part of a solution.

Finally, the common to all European colonies social division spread in Liberia: there are worlds between citizens and government. A highly complex cultural construct has emerged in which corruption is endemic. There is an incredible amount of beautiful, right things and projects that are brought to success with great effort. But the struggle of many from the elite against the emancipation of civil society means that a lot of people do everything right, but very rarely the right thing comes out of it in the long term.

Women ended the Liberian Civil War. Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf received the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, however, patriarchy is completely back. Not even the ban on female genital mutilation could be enforced.

As a reminder, here is the trailer for the documentary by Gini Reticker, 2008: https : //www.youtube.com/watch? v = Y0fZ01lX0f0

(This and more substantial information on the structure of Liberian society can be found impressively in Stephen Ellis, The Mask of Anarchy, 2007)

The German Wikipedia writes about FGM:

In some countries where circumcision is traditionally widespread, there are legal bans, such as Egypt (complete ban since 2007), Benin (since 2005), Burkina Faso (1997), Djibouti (1995), Ivory Coast (1998), Eritrea (2007), Ghana, Guinea (1969), Senegal (1999), Niger, several – but not all – states in Nigeria, Tanzania , Togo, Chad, Uganda (2009) and the Central African Republic and Sudan (2020).

In many main distribution areas, large parts of the population have no relation to a modern (national) legal system. National laws are often unknown at the local level, and the attitudes of traditional authorities are far more important to the population. People do not identify with national legislation and therefore do not feel obliged to comply with it.

The activist Hadja Kitagbe Kaba, who comes from the West African & nbsp; Guinea, rated & nbsp; Deutschlandfunk in February 2012:

“The laws or police control are of no use. This circumcision has been forbidden for me since 1969. For 40 years. But 90 percent are circumcised. And this year 100 percent – all girls in my region are circumcised. ”

– & nbsp; Hadja Kitagbe Kaba, Mama Africa e. & nbsp; V. Berlin

There are many reasons why Liberian mothers still allow their girls to be picked up by secret societies and circumcised in the bush school.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government has made many attempts to use the law to protect women from their own society. Their ordinance expired in 2019 – a law to severely punish FGM has not yet been ratified.

In Sierra Leone, historically closely linked to Liberia, parliament refused to criminalize the practice in 2007.

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