Liberia’s Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor, has expressed concern over the increasing wave of gender-based violence throughout the country, and the rest of the world.
She notes that children as young as six and up to 12 years, are the latest targets of sexual and gender-based violence here, noting that in some cases, boys are not spared.
Vice President Taylor raised the concern while addressing the start of a five-day workshop organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center of Ghana in collaboration with the Catholic Relief Services and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, respectively in Monrovia on Monday.
“In recent times,” she went on, “there are lots of reports of boys are really being raped and so this situation is very critical”, she observes.
According to her, sexual and gender-based violence affects the mental capacity of anybody, who is abused thereby, depriving them of the best opportunities they wanted to be.
Madam Taylor laments that this is something that brings shame to victims, rather than the perpetrators, who will continue to cause one violence after another from one community to another.
“In Liberia and across the West African region, you will find a very old man having a young girl as old as 13 or 14 in public places, describing the girl as his young thing.”
“It is something that is accepted and we turn blind eyes on these incidents which portray that sexual-based violence is very damaging at many levels”
“Regrettably,” she adds, “most of the people including mothers turn a blind eye, looking at only physical violence abuses and gender-based abuses.”
The Liberian Vice President thanks the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center and the Catholic Relief Services for undertaking the training of Civil Society Organizations and local community leaders about the danger of gender-based violence in society.
Earlier in welcome remarks, the Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Center, Major General Francis Ofori, said the training is intended to enhance the capacity of local community leaders in order to address the high rate of rape in the world, including the West African region.
He said the workshop is also aimed at enhancing individual skills, shape altitudes while building a sense of teamwork and collaboration among local actors.
“It is our expectation that you participants will this workshop to strengthen your capacity and add value to your professional life as you continue to fight against gender-based violence in the country”, General Ofori said.
For her part, the Country Manager for the Catholic Relief Service, Dr. Abena Amedormey, notes that gender inequality has a critical impact and it intersects with entrenched poverty, vulnerability and injustice.
She explains that the abolition of gender-based violence is one of the five pillars that CRS focuses on in its agenda that runs from 2020 to 2030.
Dr. Amedormey indicated that gender-based violence poses a major threat to the integral human development of project participants and prevent sectoral outcome.
“A number of our program addresses gender-based violence and we have successfully integrated gender across all of our programs in Liberia in particular,” she said; adding: “we do have a team to make sure that the fight against GBV is not negated in all of our programs.”
The opening ceremony was graced by representatives of the Liberia National Police; the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Protection; Liberia’s Peace Building Office; the Ghanaian Embassy here, civil society organizations and community leaders, among others. Editing by Jonathan Browne