In response to the growing wave of occurrences of sexual gender based violence cases, Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI) has embarked on a program to help strengthen local Community Women Groups capacity to response to COVID19 Pandemic and SGBV in Mount Barclay, Duahzon, GSA Road and Samukai Town communities to collectively work together to monitor and report cases of sexual gender based violence and help provide support to survivors in their respective communities.
The organizations have come together in network to jointly work together to help educate community dwellers and local authorities on the national referral pathway SGBV response. From its ongoing anti-rape and gender based violence work, PAYOWI recognized the need for understanding of the national referral pathway in the fight against rape by communities dwellers.
Following the one-day refresher training, the community women committed to creating SGBV prevention awareness in their communities, which they believe will greatly help girls and young women understand and identify early warning signs and help prevent them from falling to prey to molesters and abusers.
According to the Paramount Chief elect for the Mount Barclay community, Ma MartuSaah, the fight against rape and sexual and domestic violence continue to experience setback due to lack of information on the SGBV and impact of traditional and cultural belief. She lamented that with robust awareness, the myths around SGBV and the silencing of survivors will be eradicated.
Marking remarks during the SGBV and COVID-19 awareness workshop, the Community Women Leader noted that many times, community women organizations try to intervened in alleged rape cases, their efforts turns out to be fruitless, as many survivors and their parents and guardians opt to settle the matter at the family level and shy away from legal remedies due to lack of information and fear of stigmatization.
She said another reason expressed by community dwellers is the lack of trust in the police, “people complain that they are drilled back and forth” when complaints are taken to the police about allege rape, and by chance if the case moves on to the court, the process to obtaining justice becomes slow, challenging and expensive than most people can afford. So as an alternative, many survivors and their parents will settle at home, something she term as very wrong. With the collaboration with PAYOWI, Ma Martu hopes that the network of women from different organizations, they would play a more meaningful role in helping in the anti-rape fight and that survivors will get justice.
According to PAYOWI’s Executive Coordinator, project will help increase SGBV reportage and access to justice by survivors in four. She noted even though COVID-19 has generally challenged women, the issues if SGBV have not stopped, therefore community-based women organizations’ needs the relevant empowerment and capacity in utilizing approaches in keeping with health protocols, at the same time monitor, document and report cases of gender-based violence happening in their communities.
Ms. Harris said, the dangling vulnerability of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic further figures out in light of the fact that violence against women and girls continue to be prevalence in homes and communities across Liberia for decades. Hence, there is a need for emergency and collective efforts by everyone to stand up against rape and violence against women and girls.
She used the opportunity to call on the national government to foster institutional strengthening to impact the systematic change in handling said cases.
The project is supported by the Feminist Humanitarian Network with funding through Actionaid International. The Feminist Humanitarian Network (FHN) is an international collective of local and national organizations, international organizations, academic institutions, and individuals committed to transforming the humanitarian system in a way that promotes a feminist humanitarian agenda. FHN goal is to strengthen the agency and amplify the voices of all women most affected by, and least supported in, humanitarian emergencies.