Monrovia - As Liberia joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Day of the African Child, the Domestic Violence Bill submitted to the National Legislature six months ago, is yet to be passed into law.
The Government has indicated that the day will be celebrated in Grand Cape Mount County and will be used to highlight the well-being of the African Child in terms of health, education, domestic violence, Sexual Gender-based Violence, food and security, poverty among other issues that hamper the growth of the child. Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Julia Cassell says the delay in passing the bill is allowing people to commit inhumane acts against powerless people. “If this domestic violence bill had been passed, the JFK Hospital nurses on ward that night, the dietitian and all those involved would have been arrested and sent to court, but we cannot do it in the absence of the bill that is not yet passed. The bill has been in before the Legislature for over six months and it has yet to be passed,” says Minister Cassel. Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Wednesday, Minister Cassell said the bill is before the House of Representatives to act before the Senate can concur with the lower house’s decision. Minister Cassell has pledged her ministry’s support in championing and flagging child’s rights issues. She called on the Liberian populace, particularly the religious community to join and intensify the campaign against rape and all forms of violence against children in Liberia. Additionally, the Gender Boss warned parents against the abandonment of their children, stressing that persistent non-support and family abandonment are on the increase. Rape constitutes 56.1% of violence against children, while sexual assault and physical assault/domestic violence constitute 17.5% and 17.8% respectively. Also speaking about the Domestic Violence Bill before the Legislature, Assistant Minister for Planning and Policy Research, Meima S. Kerneh, said they have been told by the House of Representatives to evaluate the document and add all of the points they want to be changed in the bill, in the interest of women and return it at the later date. “Speaker Tyler was concern about unmarried people living together for years and sharing of the properties. And asked us what becomes of a lady who had just moved in with a well-established man for a month or two and demands share of his property when she is moving out? So, those were things they have asked us to make explicit in the document,” says Minister Karneh. The bill before the Legislature is entitled: An Act to Amend Title 26, chapter 16 of the penal law, LCLR Offenses against the Family to Odd sub chapter A. Domestic Violence. The preamble of the bill states “whereas; there is a high incidence of domestic violence within the Liberian Society- whereas, survivors/victims of domestic violence are among the most vulnerable members of Society; whereas, domestic violence takes on many forms, acts which may be community in a wide range of Domestic and other relationships, and remedies currently available to the survivors/victim of domestic violence have proven ineffective…”
Another part of the art of the bill states: “whereas; pursuant to the National Gender policy 2009 adopted by the Government of the Republic of Liberia, it is the policy of the government to promote enactment and the implementation of the laws against domestic violence, create a wide range of remedies to discourage domestic violence and programs including raising public awareness and public education on the subject, expend the ability of law enforcement officers to assist survivors/victims and to enforce the law effectively in cases of domestic violence, train judges, prosecutors and traditional leaders to be aware of the issues relating to the survivors/victims of domestic violence, provide for and train counselors to support survivors/victims of domestic violence and to rehabilitate perpetrators of domestic violence, and establish comprehensive support service including emergency service for survivors/victims of abuse and their families…”