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Illiteracy increases SGBV

--Deputy Min Fofana

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Deputy Information Minister for Technical Services Mr. Boakai M. Fofana says Sexual Gender – Based Violence (SGBV) is on the increase in Liberia due to the rate of illiteracy here.The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Plan International Liberia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with support from the Swedish Embassy, are holding two days media training In Gbarnga, Bong County from October 31 to November 1, 2019 SGBV Reporting under the theme: “Enhancing Local Media Reportage of SGBV”.

Speaking at the two – day media training in Gbarnga this week, Mr. Fofana says cultural belief makes some tribes to accept that women should be beaten by their men.But according to Deputy Minister Fofana, the training will help the journalists to educate the public to change their mindset, adding that reporting on these SGBV issues will help them change their mind.

He observes that the [public here] has gotten used to political stories, but notes that women’s issues are key and must be reported.
Mr. Fofana urges the participants to report on any domestic violence act, thanking the Liberian Legislature for passing the Domestic Violence Bill into law.The workshop brought together journalists from various counties in Gbarnga.The Advocacy and Communications Officer at the UNFPA, Mr. Calixte S. Hessou says the media need to work to ensure a greater coverage on SGBV to help the society.

He adds that SGBV was high before and during the civil war here, and that Liberia still faces the same issue even after the war.
But Mr. Hessou indicates that a continuous reporting and awareness on the issue will help educate the public to put an end to it.
He says the UN is committed to having zero tolerance on SGBV.Darius Gweh, Director of Culture at MICAT says cultural practices bring about violence in the society, citing female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages, among others.

In some cultures, Mr. Gweh notes that parents choose husbands for their girls, noting that it brings about violence when the children are not allowed to make their own choice.He urges journalists to talk to the old people during their reportage to seek answers to why they chose these kinds of cultures and what impact they have on society.

For her part, the president of the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) Mrs. Siatta Scott – Johnson says gender – based violence is still the least reported crime in the media, noting that it usually takes place in the home and the family hides it.According to her, the silence surrounding GBV contributes to the lack of information in the media, among others.Madam Scott – Johnson adds that it is important to make GBV visible in the media, adding that the press should force society to acknowledge it as a problem.

The FeJAL president says sensitive reporting on gender – based violence can also help survivors and others by providing them with the information that they need to protect themselves or others and seek help and justice.By Ethel A Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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