News / Africa

Liberian Journalist Defends Writings, Despite Threats

Mae Azango receiving CPJ award from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll Mae Azango receiving CPJ award from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll
x
Mae Azango receiving CPJ award from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll
Mae Azango receiving CPJ award from AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll
James Butty
The Liberian journalist who wrote about the practice of female circumcision, or genital mutilation (FGM), and its health risks in Liberia said she is still receiving threats and harassment from people who feel that her writings betrayed a traditional practice.  
Mae Azango of FrontPage Africa and New Narratives was one of the recipients of this year’s Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award.  

She also received an award for “courageous reporting” from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression in Toronto.

Azango rejected suggestions by her critics that she wrote about the practice to get political asylum in the United States.  

Azango said she’s pleased her work this year on the issue of female circumcision is being recognized by some in the international community.

“I feel good that my work has been recognized by the outside instead of my own country.  A lot of people [in Liberia] don’t appreciate because, up till now, I still get a whole lot of comments that I shouldn’t have done what I did. I sold my culture to the white people for plenty of money,” she said.

Butty interview with Azango
Butty interview with Azangoi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

Azango said money was not part of the two awards she received for her reporting contrary to what she said some in Liberia thought.  She said she wrote about FGM to shed light on the health risks of the practice.

“What kind of money?  They gave [me] the awards without money.  I’m not selling my culture.  I was only writing about the health risks that are claiming the lives of many women and girls.  Some of these people just take knives and just cut the children.  They don’t have any medication to stop the bleeding, no anesthesia.  They just cut these children. These are risks I was pointing out.  Then they said I shouldn’t have said it,” Azango said.

Azango said she did not betray her culture.  She said it was hypocritical that she would be criticized for writing about FGM, whereas whites or foreigners who write about the same practice are not equally criticized.

“Let’s face reality.  This female genital mutilation has been in the open for a very long time.  People have been talking about it all on the Internet and nobody seems to complain, but [only] because Mae Azango is from Liberia. Let’s forget culture and tradition.  Let’s talk about the three-, four-, five-year-old girls who are dying.  Do they have to cut them because of tradition?” Azango asked.

She said she is still receiving threats and harassment from people who feel that her writings betrayed a traditional practice.

“I still get threats in my email.  People that I know are still threatening me. They are still sending [threats] to my box to say the penalty for what I did is death.  No matter how long it takes, they will get me.  So, of course, I know my life is in danger,” Azango said.

Azango said she had to send her 10 year-old daughter to live with a relative because she also fears for her daughter’s life.

“Even my nine year-old daughter, who just turned 10, she no longer lives with me.  I took her and sent her to a different relative.  I’m sitting in the United States; I came for an award but, because I’m here, those people could go behind my back and snatch my daughter away.  That’s how the traditional people can behave,” Azango said.

She rejects suggestions by her critics, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, she wrote about the practice to get political asylum in the United States.

“Since I wrote this story, I won’t say Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has come out to say anything until the last time, I think that was last month [September 2012] or so, when she came to Columbia School [University] and somebody in the audience asked her about this same Mae Azango issue. And her remark was a journalist who gets on the Internet and just writes things because they want to come to the United States, it’s dangerous. What she’s trying to say is that I wrote the story because I want to come to the U.S.,” Azango said.

Azango said she intends to return to Liberia this month because she loves her country and that no one is going to scare her from returning there.

“I’m going back this same month.  This December, I’m going back.  Nobody will scare me out of Liberia.  They are not more Liberian than Mae.  All of us were born in Liberia.  So, why would one person want to scare me out of my own country?  It can’t happen, not under this sun.  I don’t want political asylum.  I love my country better than living in the US,” Azango said.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steven from: united States
December 17, 2012 11:57 AM
Thanks Ms. Azango, I think it's about time that someone take on these issues, the female clitories has a very essential part to play in the life of a woman. Therefore by removing it most women have problems later on in life. And like you said these procedures are carried out with out any medical procedures and consent from the kids involved. I think parents should wait for kids to decide when they are 18 and above if they wish to be mutilated.


by: Musu from: Monrovia, Liberia
December 17, 2012 11:45 AM
Enough already! This attention seeking "journalist" (and I use the term loosely) is just a stooge ofthe West. What did she really write about traditional societies that have not already been written or said? In Radiance of the Water, the author goes indepth about the Sane and I do nto see her life being threatened. This Azango wants political asylum, plain and simple. Nobody threatened her. Liberians are more intent on means of survival than paying attention to someone who has not done their homewok. But hte West is always ready to heap praises on an African who reinforces the West stereotype of Africans as savages. Why don't the West pay attention to Egypt that has a 98% female genital mutilation rate (the highest in the world) . Not all Liberians practice FGM. In fact teh percentage is declining. this has been journalist simply wants publicity.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid