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Anti – rape measures await Cabinet meeting

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Having received proposals and recommendations from a two – day National Conference on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), President George Manneh Weah says he will announce a number measures and actions for immediate implementation at the end of a planned Cabinet meeting due this Friday, 11 September.

“At the end of the meeting, my Government will announce a number of measures and actions for immediate implementation, as the first steps to begin to urgently address these issues. We will then move with all deliberate speed to roll out the other measures in due course,” Mr. Weah said Wednesday, 9 September at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.

Mr. Weah says he has been presented with the Validated Roadmap which is the result of the concerted efforts and inputs of all participants at the just – ended National Conference following deliberations intended to validate government and partners’ Roadmap on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence by 2020-2022 prepared by a High-Level Inter-Ministerial Committee.

This National Conference on SGBV came after three successive days of mass anti – rape protests were staged in Monrovia and other parts of Liberia late August, attracting women, men and children from all walks of live, including former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf who was part of those making speeches at the conference.

The protests which ended on 27 August, came as reports of rape cases continue to rise here of recent with victims even less than a year – old and in some cases, the perpetrators acting very brutally to prey on their victims.

In one case that emerged from Gbarpolu County of recent, a perpetrator is accused of using razor blade to cut the private part of a three – year – old girl so as to pave his way to abuse her sexually.

But these anti – rape protests seem not to have deterred some child abusers, judging from more new alleged rape cases that continue to emerge based on police authorities’ report last weekend of nine additional cases.

“Given the importance of this document, with its comprehensive proposals and recommendations for a holistic and inclusive response to the high incidence of rape and sexual-based violence in Liberia, I will convene a meeting of the Cabinet on this Friday, two days from now, for the sole purpose of discussing it,” Mr. Weah says at the SGBV conference.

During group discussions and the Plenary Session, Mr. Weah says the focus was on four important areas of possible improvement in Liberia’s approach to prevention of rape and SGBV.

These four areas include engagement of communities; health implications; proposals to amend and strengthen the existing laws on rape and sexual and gender-based violence; and strengthening coordination on data collection and reporting.

However, Mr. Weah says while his government acknowledges the support from all partners, he looks forward to more financial and technical support to enable the government to implement the National Roadmap fully and timeously.

Further, he states that government alone cannot win this battle, thereby calling upon the Inter-Religious Council here, the Council of Churches, the Traditional Council, community leaders and all Liberians to join hands with the government to win the war against rape and SGBV.

By Winston W. Parley

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