-Amb. Endee provides clarity on FGM

By: G Bennie Bravo Johnson I

Amid controversies about the closure of bush schools that erupted from the three years ban placed on the practice of female genital mutilation FGM in Liberia, the traditional queen- Ambassador Julie Endee recently provided that bush schools are not close as speculated in the public, rather the recent step is in an endeavor to ensure “Initiation Without Mutilation” into bush schools.

“The sende schools are operating and having students admitted through initiation without mutilation. But the poro schools are closed because of the elections. During elections, there is a likely-hood that a member of the poro could be contesting and when a none member is campaigning, there’s a possibility that they could come out to prevent that none member from contesting. Therefore, all poro schools are closed till after the election.” The traditional queen said

Traditional people have revealed that the Poro is one of the traditional schools where males go to learn traditional practices and how to become a better traditional leader and father. On the other hand, the sende school is a traditional school intended for females and it’s where they are thought basic traditional knowledge and how to become a proper home wife.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice that has been globally condemned.

Globally, it is estimated that over 200 million girls and women have undergone FGM. Prevalence varies significantly by region, with the practice most common in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and some Asian countries.

In Liberia, while specific prevalence rates may vary across different regions, FGM remains a concerning issue. Local prevalence data suggests that a significant portion of the female population has been subjected to this practice.

FGM is deeply intertwined with cultural beliefs and practices. It is often considered a rite of passage, a way to preserve tradition, or a means of ensuring marriageability and social acceptance for girls and women in certain communities.

Ambassador Julie Endee who spoke at the media training workshop on objective reporting on FGM, held at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, added that there are two types of traditional schools for females.

She said the Sende is practiced in eleven counties while the Bodio is practiced in four counties, and the Sende is divided into three kinds.

“There are three kinds of Sende. The Muslim Sende and Mask Sende are the Mowa and they are the ones practicing FGM. The Kpowa Sende are the ones that don’t practice FGM” But currently the ban on the FGM is active, while the official closure of the FGM portion of it is ongoing.”

In furtherance, the culture ambassador stated that the elimination of FGM is not just Liberia issue that must be done locally, but be done continentally and globally. She urged journalists when reporting on the elimination and engaging the practitioners ofFGM, they must not put the donors’ mandate first instead the elders’ mandate.

Furthermore, she encouraged journalists to engage FGM practitioners with respect and tell them the alternative measure of attaining livelihood, because over the years, FGM has been the only source of livelihood.

“Because you put the donors’ mandate first and not the elders, and you treat them with disdain, they don’t listen when you talk about abolishing FGM. You have to put their message first and respect their culture and appreciate the positive aspect of the practices before telling them to stop FGM.”

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