House speaker Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie yesterday clashed over debate surrounding a newly introduced bill seeking abolition of forceful female genital mutilation in Liberia, with the pairs, both of whom hailed from the Southeast of Liberia, presented contrasting opinions on the issue, The Analyst Anthony Jiffan witnessed Tuesday’s intriguing episode between the two statesmen at the Women Legislative Caucus’ induction ceremony and now files in this report.
Much to the amazement of hundreds of onlookers who attended yesterday’s official induction ceremony of the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia, the Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate Albert Chie and House Speaker publically disagreed with each other as Senator Chie argued that the act a domestic violence, while House Speaker Chambers termed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a highly traditional and culturally sensitive top provocative topic within the African society that often grabs both local and international attention, as a domestic violence against girls and women.
“I as a President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, I am against domestic violence, but Female Genital Mutilation is not a domestic violence” Pro Tempore Chie said.
The Grand Kru Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate Albert Tugbeh Chie said female genital mutilation is not a domestic violence and should not be considered as violence against women domestically.
Sen. Chie however frowned on other forms of domestic violence like sexual exploitation and abuse, rape amongst, but welcome female genital mutilation. He said Female Genital Mutilation is a form of traditional practice across the African continent that is carried out in many African countries and not only Liberia.
Contrary to that of the senate Pro Tempore statement, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers argued and described FGM practice as domestic violence against women, especially juvenile.
Speaker Chambers said female genital mutilation should be carried out on women at maturity age and based on their agreement, but not to them into what they may not like to do.
“Let FGM be carried out on women at maturity age when they agree to do so and force them into it while they are under age, don’t force the children to carry out FGM on them” Speaker Chambers added.
The action of the two law makers, especially with their portfolios and origin, Speaker of the House Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate and both coming from the Southeast took shock to the faces of those at the ceremony.
Tuesday’s public disagreement between the two high profile government officials, especially at the level of the national legislature is the first on the female genital mutilation debate which has, from-time-time, claimed huge public attention in the country.
While western nations argued that the practice poses serious health hazards for girls and women, traditionalists have counter argued that the practice is a strong traditional method that have properly brought up millions of girls and women in the African society. Debate over the passage of anti-FGM bills in the country often result to intense confrontation between pro-western idealists and entrenched African traditionalists.
Also, observers say “yesterday’s disagreement between the two top ranking officials of the CDC led government speaks to the challenge facing the passage of such bill.”
“Passing this bill will prove very difficult because opinion on this matter remains hugely divided,” one political analyst, who claimed anonymity, informed the Analyst a fortnight ago in a phone chart.