Haunted For Anti-FGM Advocacy: Medical Practitioner Alarms PIX: Edward Kollie, Physician Assistant and Officer-in-Charge of the GermLib Medical Facility in Paynesville

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A dedicated Liberian medical practitioner, Edward Kollie, has sounded an alarm about ongoing threats and intimidation he faces from practitioners of female genital mutilation (FGM). His outspoken opposition to these practices stems from personal tragedy, having lost his sister, Mercy Kollie, due to complications arising from FGM in July 2020. Kollie, a Physician Assistant, serving as the Officer-in-Charge of the GermLib Medical Facility in Paynesville, has been vocal against FGM, which has led to threats not only against himself but also against his children, he says. These threats escalated when he visited his home county, Lofa, on December 20, 2023 to spend the holiday season. Kollie mentioned that shortly after arriving in the county on December 20th, his niece (name withheld) gave birth the following morning but experienced serious medical complications stemming from scars resulting from the earlier cutting of her clitoris and a portion of her vulva. “We discovered that she had undergone FGM one year before her pregnancy, which led to various complications,” he explained. Driven by his medical expertise and commitment to community health, Kollie extended his usual health talks to his hometown, emphasizing preventive measures against HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Malaria, Teenage Pregnancy, and the adverse effects of FGM.  However, his health talks about and against FGM practices, and the underlying consequences, drew objection from some residents, particularly elderly women and some youths, who accused him of disrespecting tradition and polluting the minds of the young generation against a revered cultural practice.  In an interview with journalists, Kollie, who fled overnight for his life, expressed: “I had good intentions, but it backfired. I was warned at night by concerned individuals to leave the town, as unknown men had planned to take me to the bush society at night for speaking against FGM.” Kollie said through the help of these “good Samaritans”, he managed to get a bike which he used to leave the area. Kollie said he did not use the usual route but passed through Gbarpolu County to get to Monrovia. “This one hit too close to home, as my sister died due to FGM-related complications after being forcibly initiated into the Sande society in Bomi County, where I was also threatened four years ago,” he lamented. His advocacy against FGM, primarily in rural areas where the practice persists, has led to repeated attacks and threats by Sande society members.  Kollie recounted a previous incident in Bomi County, where he faced threats and had to abandon medical initiatives due to safety concerns. Reports from The Inquirer Newspaper’s Volume 28 Number 104 edition on June 27, 2019, revealed Kollie’s plight, highlighting how his life  in jeopardy due to his stance against FGM. The Sande society, feeling threatened by his disclosures, vowed to pursue him relentlessly, even resorting to death threats. Kollie’s recent reported escape from Lofa after threats surfaced underscores the gravity of the situation. He has reportedly informed the police, outlining the level of threats and how he now lives in fear. “This is real trauma for me, and my kids, and I must admit, I am living a worried life. It’s psychological for me as a medical practitioner,” he laments.

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