Monrovia - In observance of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign, over 20 government and non-governmental organizations concluded a day-long, round table discussion with stakeholders to enhance the protection from sexual and gender-based violence for women, girls and sexual minorities in Liberia.
According to the acting head of programs and policy of Actionaid, Elizabeth D. Gbah Johnson, the program to sensitize Liberians on gender-based violence and sexual minorities in eight communities across three counties—Margibi, Gbarpolu and Montserrado — in Liberia, over a period of three years with support from the European Union Delegation in Liberia, will cost 508,789 Euros and will cover a total of 52, 176 women and girls.
Giving an overview of the program, Madam Johnson said the three-year project in collaboration with the EU delegation in Liberia, is aimed at reducing sexual and gender-based violence and providing assistance to survivors in the country through advocacy for the implementation of laws protecting women, girls and other groups from human rights violations.
“This project seeks to build civil society’s capacity for a rights based development in Liberia; establish and strengthen advocacy oriented civil society in Liberia,” she said.
Due to the many abuses against women in the country, Actionaid believes that if well sensitized, the ugly act will be minimized in the country.
Elizabeth noted that at the end of the three-year project both Actionaid and EU hope targeted women and girls will increase their confidence to report and challenge sexual violence and other forms of SGBV within their respective communities and gain improved economic independent.
She is of the conviction that 150 key SGBV duty bearers to include health, legal, gender education and 10 media organizations will perform their duties in a more responsive and evidence-based way in limiting sexual harassment.
Also speaking during the discussion, the coordinator for Montserrado County of the Ministry of Gender and Children and Social Protection, Benedict Nyae Sr, said issue of violence against women is key priority of the ministry; adding that government needs to empower the Ministry in prosecuting violators.
“There must be strong laws to prosecute those who will sexually abuse women and girls in the society.”
Nyae said there are several things been put in to place by the Ministry of Gender to curtail the indecent behavior of some men in the various communities.
For her party the Director of Girls Education at the Ministry of Education, Lorpu Mannah, disclosed that the code of conduct for all schools was put into place by the Ministry to stop the issue of sex for grade.
She said the Ministry of Education supports the campaign against sexual gender-based violence in schools and will join Actionaid in the fight to end SGBV in Liberia.
A participant in the discussion, Dennis Wesseh, recommended that there be a documentation put into place where those who violate the rights of girls will be held accountable.
He said documenting ills in the society at such gathering is important and wants the recommendation from the round table discussion be presented to the government as the official position of those that are constantly been affected of sexual violence.
Tarlee Dahn, a student of the University of Liberia, said it is prudent that the Education Ministry put in place methods to protect students mainly females.
Ms Dahn added that such mechanism be done in all schools not just collages, but high, junior and elementary schools because there are teachers harassing female students within these institutions.
As their way to protect young girls and women against violence, a group of students under the named, “Safe Cities for Women,” has petitioned authorities of universities and higher institutions of learning for improvement in their schools.
Reading the group petition, Benetta Bee called on institutions to recognize the existence of gender-based violence, harassment, sexual exploitation on universities and higher institutions of learning campuses.
According to the group, there is a need for anti-SGBV policy that will deal directly with the demand for sex from female students by their instructors and other forms of harassments and promote gender responsive public services that will take into account women’s healthcare, transport and policing need.