The FGM Abolition bill is written and sponsored by Deputy Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, and co-sponsor by Representatives Thomas Goshua, Isaac Roland, Ceebee C.D. Barshell, Richard Koon and Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis.
On Thursday 30 June 2022, the House voted to forward the FGM Abolition Bill to the Committees on Internal Affairs Judiciary, and Gender Equity, Child Development and Social Services. With amendments that copy of the bill be given each lawmaker to engage constituents in the counties during their July's recess (break) and that the constitueny engagement be facilitated (funded) by the House of Representatives, also the report from the Committees be made in January 2023.
The FGM has been regarded a life-threatening to women, and remains deeply entrenched in some societies, including Liberia, which is widely practice in 10 out of 15 counties.
The FGM is said to be an ancient practice, which, contrary to popular belief, is not encouraged by any religion, but exposes young women to irreversible reproductive health risks.
It is said West and Central Africa is home to 17 out of the 27 African countries where FGM is prevalent, and more than 40 million girls and women have undergone FGM in the region.
Female genital mutilation is a procedure performed on a woman or girl to alter or injure her genitalia for non-medical reasons. It most often involves the partial or total removal of her external genitalia. FGM is a violation of girls’ and women’s fundamental human rights.
The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative and Deputy Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, in his communication to the House of Representatives, said nearly three years ago, when the Legislature formed a bipartisan coalition to pass the Domestic Violence bill, he said to have promised the women and children of Liberia that he will champion a genital mutilation bill.
"Mr. Speaker, even with the recent reversal of the landmark constitutional ruling in the United States of Roe v. Wade, majority of persons living in civilized democracies still believe that a woman right over her body is a private right and may not be interfered with by the State and or traditional institutions," the Deputy Speaker wrote.
"It is the responsibility of Liberian democracy to protect the new and the weak, and it is now time to tackle the painful debate of harmful traditional practices especially female genital mutilation, commonly known as "FGM."
The Deputy Speaker added: "The data is abundant and clear, that FGM has enormous psycho social, social, and political implications far beyond the painful procedure usually practiced by non medical personnel."
The Deputy Speaker argued that in the country, and the evidence is overwhelming that the costs of the traditional practices outweigh the benefits, and invidious discrimination is meted out to one section of our society, we must act.
The Deputy Speaker indicated that it is within the spirit of a right to privacy enshrined in our constitution and the global recognition that harmful traditional practices must be abolished that we lay this piece of legislation before plenary for debate and hopeful passage so no longer will a
Liberian woman or girl live through the trauma of the violation of her privacy or the mutilation of her body.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is also reviewing a proposed amendment of Rules and Procedures written by the Deputy Speaker.
The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative is requesting the cancellation "Aye and Nah" voting but rather it should be done by 'Showing of Hands' or 'standing '
The Deputy Speaker said: "The amendment being offered with this letter allows for official recording of votes of the members on all bills, budget, concession agreements and similar Instruments. By recording our votes for the permanent record will signal to Liberia and the world that we are prepared to be judged by the current and historic record of our position on ur principle functions of lawmaking."
He added: "This amendment will also allow vigorous monitoring by our constituents and will serve the rebranding and reform agenda to which we are committed."