Medical Practitioner Claims Threat For Anti-FGM Awareness

Edward Kollie, a local medical practitioner, has raised an alarm regarding what he calls the continuous threats and intimidation he faces from practitioners of female genital mutilation (FGM). His outspoken opposition to this practice stems from the tragic loss of his sister, Mercy Kollie, some four years ago.
As the Officer in Charge of the GermLib Medical Facility in Paynesville, Kollie, a Physician Assistant, says he has faced escalating threats that have even extended to his children, with the latest one being his recent visit to his home county, Lofa, for the holidays – a trip he cut short.
Kollie revealed that upon arriving in the county on December 20, he learned that his niece had given birth the next morning but experienced complications due to scars on her private part. “We discovered that she had undergone FGM one year before her pregnancy, leading to various complications,” he explained.
Driven by his commitment to healthcare, Kollie aimed to provide health talks similar to those given at the hospital, covering topics such as HIV/AIDS prevention, Hepatitis B, Malaria, Teenage Pregnancy, and the adverse effects of FGM.
However, his presentation on FGM provoked strong reactions from group of residents, including elderly women and youths, who accused him of disrespecting their cultural traditions and poisoning people’s mind.
“In good faith, I sought to educate, but it has turned dangerous for me,” Dr. Kollie said in an interview. “I was warned by well-wishers to leave town as unknown individuals planned to forcibly take me to the bush society during the night for speaking against FGM.” He fled during the night hours, via motorbike, cutting his vacation short, passing through Gbarpolu before returning to Monrovia.
Expressing deep concern, Kollie recounted threats targeting his three daughters, intending to initiate them forcibly into the Sande society, the same society he criticizes.
Kollie’s resolve and advocacy against FGM strengthened after his sister, Mercy Kollie, contracted HIV/AIDS from a forced initiation into the Sande society, where unsterile tools were used for genital cutting.
“Persistently speaking against FGM, especially in rural areas where it is prevalent, has made me a target. I faced attacks previously when they forcefully initiated my sister in Bomi County. Now, threats loom, especially in my hometown of Tenebu,” the distressed medical practitioner revealed.
Kollie’s unwavering campaign against FGM has long since put his life in jeopardy. A report in The Inquirer Newspaper’s Volume 28 Number 104 edition of June 27, 2019, highlighted a scenario where he had to halt medical services in Boma Town, Senjeh District, Bomi County, due to threats from traditional women and practitioners of the Sande society.
The newspaper quoted Kollie expressing grave concerns about his safety: “My life is in jeopardy due to my stance against FGM. They threaten me with death and relentlessly pursue me to silence my advocacy.”
Kollie continuously grieves that his younger sister would not have died in 2020 if she had not been forcefully initiated, resulting in her illness and eventual death from AIDS. “My sister fell victim to FGM, and now my daughters are under threat,” Kollie lamented. He argues that many Liberian girls and women are seriously affected by the practice leading to health and birth complications like cervical arrests and fistula.
Despite a ban on FGM in Liberia, the practice continues unabated in many rural parts of Liberia, with authorities having little or no power to halt practices.
Alarmed by the recent threats in Lofa, Kollie has alerted the Liberia National Police (LNP), emphasizing the urgent need for intervention to safeguard his life and his family’s.

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