Monrovia - As sexual and gender based violence increases in Liberia, communities have joined the fight in combating these vices in order to create more suitable space in the Liberian society for girls and women.
Residents and health workers of both King Gray and Cooper Beach Communities say it is time for all Liberians to go beyond condemning the act of SGBV by taking concrete steps to end it.
The residents, during a week-long training conducted by Medica-Liberia - non-governmental organization, the two communities in Paynesville called on Liberians to make SGBV sociably unacceptable.
“The act is not cultural, it is criminal”.
The residents and health workers said sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is not only prevalent in Liberian society, it is unfortunately accepted as an integral part of gender relations.
This perception was exacerbated during the war years, as SGBV was used repeatedly as a weapon of war, they said.
The participants are also calling on Liberian men to help protect women and children against SGBV.
They added that SGBV victims risk dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, and as such SGBV against women and children must be stopped.
Mardia Johnson, a resident of King Gray community is worried about the young girls and women of Liberia due to the increase SGBV in the country.
“If you switch on your radio the only thing you hear is women being abuse by their husbands or girls being beaten by their boyfriends for simple things in the home, we need to fight against this ugly act of SGBV in Liberia,” Johnson said after the training workshop.
There are reports that during the civil conflict, the perpetrators of SGBV were mainly fighting forces (89.2 percent).
However, after the conflict the perpetrators include not just ex-combatants, but community or family members, teachers, husbands or partners.
Madam Lucy Mayson of Cooper Beach Community welcomed the idea of fighting against SGBV in Liberia.
For her, gender based violence, especially rape and domestic violence is gradually becoming common in Liberia with most women being victimized and cases compromised by the police.
“Women and girls are suffering from SGBV in this country,” she asserts.
“We thanked Medica-Liberia for hosting workshop or training for our people in Paynesville, this is the time that we all come together and fight against SGBV in our country.”
She said SGBV does not only lead to physical and mental trauma, it often carries longer-term social consequences for the survivors, such as stigmatization by their families and the community, she said.
Competing priorities and limited capacity at security and judicial agencies have made it difficult to respond quickly or effectively to GBV related issues.
These constraints including stigma, and a continuing reliance on solving issues within communities have all contributed to low reporting, and inadequate provision of care for survivors, or action against perpetrators.
The Non-Profitable Organization, Medica-Liberia wants Sexual Gender Base Volence against women and children be put an end to.
The Organization said Sexual Gender Base Volence in Liberia is on the increase and must be addressed by Liberians themselves.
Medica-Liberia in its quest to put an end to SGBV in the country held a psychosocial and trauma sensitive approach in clinical management of SGBV cases with health workers and community women Paynesville.
The training which took place in the Cooper Beach and King Gray Communities brought together over 30 health workers and community women.
The over 30 participants of both trainings are expected to go out and be agents of positive change in the society.
Medica-Liberia has also empowered Ebola survivors since the outbreak in 2014; the group has provided psychosocial and trauma counseling survivors in the most affected counties.
Speaking at the both trainings, the psychosocial trainer at Medica-Liberia, Florida Clarke and the supervisor at the Duport Road Health Center, Elizabeth Kekula urged participants to take advantage of the trainings.
Florida Clarke said the training is aimed at creating awareness in the community on Sexual Gender Base Violence and said it must be stop.
“SGBV is not a good thing as we all know, but it cannot be stopped when people not sensitized or educated about the issues that caused it and how it can be prevented, so as health workers and women in the community, it is good that we come together and fight the virus of SGBV,” she said.
Florida Clarke said the training is aimed at creating awareness in the community on Sexual Gender Base Violence; something she added must be stop.
Elizabeth Kekula, however, noted that, they have trained the health workers to be able to deal with SGBV victims at their clinics, saying, she there is a need that these victims are taking good care of because they (victim) have been sexual abused by older men in the community.
Medica-Liberia, otherwise known as Medica Mondiale is a women’s rights organization which began operations in 2006 in the southeastern part of Liberia.
This year, Medica launched her first project in Montserrado and Margibi Counties.
The project aims at enhancing the capacity of SGBV actors to provide qualified and trauma sensitive services to women and girl affected by SGBV.
The organization is currently providing gender sensitive training for SGBV survivors to provide improved services to women that experience SGBV.
Medica Liberia programs include Psycho social Support, Sexual and Reproductive Health Services and Access to Justice for women and girls affected by sexual and gender-based violence and other forms of violence.