Target: Hon. Frances Johnson-Morris, Liberian Minister of Justice
Goal: Outlaw female genital mutilation in Liberia.
The Sande society is a female secret society in Liberia who promotes and performs female genital mutation (FGM) as part of an initiation rite into womanhood. Over 58% of Liberian women have undergone FGM, and some of them have been kidnapped and forcibly subjected to FGM. In 2010, Ruth Berry Peal was kidnapped and forced to undergo FGM, and filed a lawsuit against Sande members.
While the women were found guilty of kidnapping, felonious restraint, and theft of property, and were ultimately sentenced to three years imprisonment, they appealed the judgement and were released on bail. There is currently no hearing date set, reportedly because of a lack of resources allocated to prosecuting this case.
FGM is a horrific practice that is usually performed without anesthesia, and involves removing much of the clitoris and labia. Communities who perform it believe that it reduces a woman’s libido and that it is necessary to ensure pre-marital virginity. It is also believed that it empowers a woman by making her a matron, and cleansing her of male body parts. In reality, it can lead to fatal hemorrhaging, cysts, recurring urinary and vaginal infections, chronic pain, and obstetrical complications.
In November 2011, The Liberian Government asked Sande leaders to stop FGM, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a notice to all Liberian counties stating that all Sande activities would be shut down and that violators would be prosecuted. However, it is estimated that since then, over 750 girls have undergone FGM encouraged by Sande members. The government has failed to intervene further.
Sign the petition below, and ask the Liberian government to interfere with Sande activities, and make good on their promise to prosecute the members of Sande for continuing with FGM practices. Ask them to set a date for the hearing to conclude Ruth Berry Peal’s case and to stop allowing this horrific violence against their women.
Dear Hon. Frances Johnson-Morris,
Female genital mutilation is a horrific practice that leaves women with more than just physical scars. Sande members in Liberian have continued to kidnap and force girls and women to undergo the practice, even after your government has asked them to stop, and yet the government has done nothing further to prosecute them. Furthermore, the women who kidnapped Ruth Berry Peal and forced her to undergo FGM are walking free, with no prosecution in sight.
I am asking you prosecute these women who commit violence against their own gender. FGM will never empower women, only further enslave them. Prosecute the Sande members, and show Liberian women that they don’t have to be mutilated to be empowered.
[Your Name Here]