By Bloweni Z Freeman
Dozens of Liberians women are on a regular basis harassed and intimidated by traditional societies on the practices of the female genital mutilation or FGM in Liberia, a situation that sometimes compelled young women to escape their respective towns and villages.
At most cases girl children under the ages of 5-40yrs and older are forced by their parents to go through female circumcision culturally called the Sande and Poro societies (Sande for Female and Poro for Male); using non-Sterilized blunt objects to carrying out their inhumane.
The practice of FGM in Liberia continues unabated due to the Liberian government reported lackadaisical attitude to make the practice illegal.
Because of this nonchalant behavior towards the eradication of FGM, the practice continues to ruin the lives of Liberian female children and women.
One of such cases which was recently unearthed by our reporter borders around a Liberian woman standing for her rights by refusing family demands for her to undergo FGM.
Charneda King-Porte endures all kinds of torture; attempted murder and abduction from her own people because she refuses to heed to demands for her to undergo FGM, which is, consider ‘a must’ for every female in her family. According to her, it has been a burden of torture, death threats and abuse on her entire life.
“It is really hell! I suffered all kinds of horribly-my own people are after my life because according to them, I am dishonoring tradition and dishonoring ancestral spirits”, Charneda with teary eyes revealed.
According to her, since teen age her family FGM heckling has not stopped. She had to run away from Buchannan, Grand Bassa to Monrovia where she grew up with the help of an aunty. For years, she lived her life in isolation scare of the atrocities, health complication and death of FGM.
She revealed that evenher family and relatives protested when she was married her husband. The family wanted her to under FGM before getting married. “When I refused to join the Sande bush before getting married, my people turned on my husband and threatened to kill him. It isconsidered an “abomination“andmy peoplewould go to extent to commit murder if one cannot not submit to the tradition of FGM”, she remarked.
Charneda hails from the Bassa ethnic group of which FGM is necessary for every female and it is a rite to the passage to womanhood.According to her on one occasion, a knife was held to her husband’s throat and the assailants threaten to cut his throat off.
She further told our reporter on how on July 26, 2014 she was brutally attacked by four men and a woman who threatened her with death if she does to submit to the FGM practice.
December 24, 2016 while she was visiting in the United States, her husband Conrad Porte was brutalized again and she had to cut off her visit and returned to his side. Again on March 15, 2016, armed men entered broke through her house and attempted raping her while her children were forced under the bed. The robbers again threatened that it was the last warning for her to submit or it meant her death.
According to Charneda, the last near death situations and attempted rape are the wake up calls and she is still traumatize by those events fear for her life and that of her husband and three children. She had to flee Liberia because she was the principal target for murder.
She bemoans leaving her husband and three children behind in Liberia and fleeing but according to her it is the way to keep alive and safe. I “It is my hope that I become the messenger of the silent and suffering majority who live in rural Liberia and other places. Those women and the girl children who have not the will power and support to resist their own people when burden of going through harmful traditional practices is placed upon them even when it cost them their lives”, she muttered.
It must be stated here that violence against women, including female genital mutilation, wife burning, dowry-related violence, rape, incest, wife battering, female feticide and female infanticide, trafficking, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, summary ex-execution and prostitution, is a women violations and not only a moral issue but human rights violation according to the Geneva Conventions. Elimination Against Women, CRS, CEDAW, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Security Council Resolution and many other international instruments on women. It has serious negative implications on economic and social development of women and society, and is an expression of the societal gender subordination of women.
It seems as though little or nothing is being done to the plight of women rights in Liberia, women will continuously suffer in the hand of the state security apparatus, individuals, family and community with impunity.