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Women NGOs Secretariat calls for judicial reform

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The Women NGOs Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) is calling for reform of the judicial system to ensure speedy trial of sexual and gender base violence cases, including rape.

“We are recommending that the government reform the judicial system; this we think will ensure speedy trial of reported cases to the police”, WONGOSOL says.

Reading a press statement Wednesday, September 23, at the Secretariat head office in Fiamah, Sinkor, acting executive director and program advisor Ms. Lena T. Cummings said government should employ a holistic approach to addressing domestic violence and sexual and gender base violence, covering key thematic value chains of SGBV prevention, protection, health, legal, and psychological, considering the culture of social norms and masculinity, and situational factors.

She said government should also fund implementation of SGBV roadmap developed and adopted during the just ended inter-ministerial national Anti-Rape conference held at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.

She stressed a need for adequate resources towards community-based and community-led prevention, psychological and economic empowerment activities, targeting at-risk girls and women as well as SGBV survivors.

She said notwithstanding, significant progress has been made toward addressing pervasive and gruesome scale of domestic violence and sexual and gender base violence.

She pointed out that the just-ended anti-rape conference presents policy and programatic window to reform Liberia’s political and judicial system that would ensure full utility of various gender sensitive laws and policies.

According to her, the major contention is that the expressed policy intention the President Weah to address sexual gender base violence in Liberia could be trapped by Liberia entrenched corruption culture, rigid social norms, and various other challenges at community and personal level of women and girls, making it difficult for survivors to access justice and for the pattern of sporadic incidents of SGBV against women and girls.

Meanwhile, WONGOSOL added that the rape pandemic in Liberia seems to be taking a new gruesome trend, accelerating from gang rape, and rape of babies and extending to reported abduction and subjection of girls to sexual slavery.

The acting executive director however noted that with the support they received from USAID through LAVI, WONGOSOL has commenced implementation of a three-month monitoring and observation reporting of domestic violence activities to track, document and communicate reported cases of violence.

By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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