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Liberian journalist hides, for reporting sexual mutilation

Mae Azango is a journalist in Liberia. She's in hiding fearing for her safety after breaking a national taboo and writing a story about a secret sect that practices female genital mutilation. (Photo: New Narratives)

On March 30 it was reported that traditional tribal leaders have agreed to a deal with the Liberian government to stop the practice of sexual mutilation of young girls.  This follows a brave expose by a Liberian journalist who went into hiding because of death threats for reporting the practice continues in secret. (link to Mae's follow-up piece below)
 
Last week and this week Dispatches covered the story:
 
At age 13, Ma Sabah was taken into the African bush and circumcised according to the tradition of her people.

When you put it that way, it almost sounds noble. But what Ma remembers is four women holding her down while another took a knife and hacked at her genitals.

That was more than 30 years ago. But for writing her story this month, reporter Mae Azango received death threats. She's now in hiding in Liberia, where we've managed to reach her.

Listen to Rick's interview with Mae Azango 

Journalist Mae Azango, is in hiding in Liberia. She's a reporter with the daily newspaper FrontPage Africa, and the website New Narratives.

The March 22 Dispatches program

March 29th: More from a Liberian journalist in hiding

Last week on the program, we heard from Mae Azango, a Liberian journalist forced into hiding after receiving death threats for a story she wrote about the tradition of female genital mutiliation.

As she told us, some Liberians believe it deters adultery.

Since then, the Liberian government has cautioned journalists to be careful reporting the story but urged tolerance for her.

It also says it sent out letters to those who perform the procedure four months ago, asking them to end it.

Mae's reaction?

For the record, this is the first time the Liberian government has said it wants to stop female genital mutilation.

But the Minister of Gender and Development - Julia Duncan Cassell - admits there's a big difference between asking traditional leaders to stop it, and getting them to actually stop it.

Her comment

Mae's follow-up piece:

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