CPJ alarmed by threats on Liberian Journalist for FGM story
After publishing a news report of the effects of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on Liberian girls and women in some parts of the country, a Liberian female Journalist is said to have been forced to go into hiding, due to alleged death threats.
Journalist Mae Azango, who reports for one of the country’s leading dailies and online news websites, Frontpageafrica has been in hiding for a few days now.
“I’m providing my own security, I’m in hiding, my children are home vulnerable..I don’t know if it is a crime for somebody to speak the truth,” Azango told West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) in a phone interview on Wednesday morning.
She said the threats have come from some women who felt that her report, published last week, had exposed their secrets in the traditional women’s group known as the Sande society.
The Liberian Journalist speaks with Frank Sainworla on WADR's morning live news magazine program, Newslink.
Click audio below to listen
In a letter to Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Africa's first elected woman President to take steps to ensure the safety of journalist Azango, who has been forced into hiding because of her report on FGM.
See CPJ’s letter below
March 13, 2012
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President of the Republic of Liberia
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia
Dear President Johnson:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by threats made against Liberian journalist Mae Azango, who has been in hiding since last week after she reported on the practice of female genital mutilation. We urge you, Madam President, as Africa's first and only female head of state and a champion of women's rights, to direct the Liberian authorities to ensure her safety and fully investigate the threats made against her.
Azango, a reporter for the daily FrontPage Africa and New Narratives, a project supporting independent media in Africa, published an article on March 8 entitled "Growing Pains: Sande Tradition of Genital Cutting Threatens Liberian Women's Health." The article described how tribes practice female genital mutilation on as many as two out of every three girls in the country. Although March 8 was International Women's Day, the publication of the article was followed by death threats against Azango. "They left messages and told people to tell me that they will catch me and cut me so that will make me shut up," she told CPJ. "I have not been sleeping in my house."
National Police Deputy Director Al Karley told CPJ today that he had made Azango's case a high priority. However, we believe your political leadership is required to ensure the government will take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of this journalist.
We ask you, Madam President, to use the moral authority of your office to speak out against the threats made against Azango, and to ensure that other journalists taking on this sensitive topic do not suffer the same fate.
We look forward to your response.