Eight Foreign Missions in Liberia, including the regional bloc ECOWAS, have issued a joint statement in Monrovia, urging the Government of Liberia to fulfill commitments made to scale up a survivor-centered, comprehensive response to gender-based violence, including prevention, psychosocial support, medical assistance, access to justice and rehabilitation programs for perpetrators.
The Joint Statement was issued Tuesday, November 23, 2021, by the Embassies of France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, ECOWAS Commission, and the Delegation of the European Union to mark the launch of the 30th Anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Global Campaign also calls on government to strengthen and enforce existing laws such as the rape law and the domestic violence act, including the provision of resources for awareness about these laws.
The Missions want the government to permanently ban the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, which causes physical as well as psychological pain and irreparable damage; support appointment of suitably qualified women to local government leadership positions to address the current gender imbalance and to increase female participation and representation at all levels.
They want support from the government for efforts to increase women’s political participation so that the legislature better reflects the population of the country; expand the provision of legal aid, especially for the most underserved and disadvantaged groups of women and girls as part of their ‘leave no one behind’ imperative.
They call for immediate action to address the current backlog in GBV cases under police investigation, ensure access to a speedy trial for persons accused of GBV crimes and enhance capacities for forensic investigations as well as improved data collection to enhance the collective understanding of the demographics of the problem, to identify and understand social norms and behaviors, particularly positive norms, and to better inform national plans and programs for SGBV prevention and response.
Lastly, the Foreign Missions want the government to invest in evidence-based violence prevention programs, such as school-based interventions with community outreach, combining economic empowerment and gender training, and community mobilization to change social norms.
The joint statement describes gender-based violence (GBV) as one of the most widespread and persistent violations of the rights of women and girls, disclosing that globally, one in three women will experience some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime.
It says based on available data, rape appears to be the most prevalent form, making up nearly 70 percent of reported cases, quoting the United Nations Population Fund Liberia (UNFPA-L). “Globally, the most prevalent form is intimate partner violence, which includes sexual violence. We know that the actual number of cases are likely much higher as many cases go unreported. It is important to create ways for all types of gender-based violence to be reported safely and respectfully”, the statement reads.
It stresses that ending impunity is key and Police, judicial, and health systems that are seen to be functional, accountable, and impartial will increase faith and trust in society and encourage survivors to come forward, noting “Timely redress of cases will end the belief that perpetrators can and will escape accountability for their crimes.”
It recalls that in 2020 alone, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) reported a total of 2,240 GBV cases and notes GBV can be physical, sexual, emotional, or economic, characterized by denial of resources, abandonment of families by the sole provider of that family, including child abuse and sexual abuse by parents/guardians, physical abuse or rape of a partner, female genital mutilation, and early/forced marriages.
The 30th Anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism is launched on the theme, “We must act now. We must act together.”https://thenewdawnliberia.com/we4self-and-partners-launch-national-colloquium-on-sgbv/ Story by Jonathan Browne