“Let Her No Be No” – Activists Warn Against Gender Based Violence
Monrovia – The Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia, (WONGOSOL), under the National theme: “Tackling Violence against Women Beyond Borders,” climaxed the 16 Days of Activism, in ending violence against women at their offices in Congo Town, Monrovia.
Report by Mae Azango [email protected]
The program, which brought together young people of both sexes soon turned into an interactive forum, after watching a movie on rape.”
“The forum took a new trend when the young people started debating the issue as to whether a female is capable of raping or not. With each person supporting his or her argument, they argued that since the rape law talks about penetrating, women do not have the organ to penetrate, therefore they do not rape.”
“While others argued that a woman can molest an underage man or a minor.
Putting the arguments to a rest, Mrs. Linda Cummings, Program Advisor of WONGOSOL broke the ice when she said.
“According to the new rape law, a woman, too, can rape, when she sleeps with an underage man or boy without his consent, or if she uses a foreign object to solemnize a male without his consent.”
The discussion became so very interesting, that the young men and women lost track of keeping the time. As they discussed domestic violence, some of them said they have witnessed their fathers beat their mothers.
“My advice to my fellow young men, who are in the habit of perpetrating violence against women, is to stop. It is not right.”
“These days we see in our society that violence in Liberia is killing young people.”
“My message to the young boys like me is don’t force your girlfriends to have sex when they do not consent,” said Leewelly Reeves of Dynamic Youth of Liberia.
He said that some young women have the wrong notion of making their boyfriends to beat on them in this way it will mean that their boyfriends love them.
“This is not right. Some of our girls have the wrong notion of saying if their boyfriends do not beat them, then they do not love them, it’s not because they saw violence committed against their mothers, makes it right for them to be violated.”
“Go to school and be educated in order to know your value, because if you know your value and quality, no man in his right mind will beat you.
He will know what you are worth and what you stand for,” concluded Reeves.
Mrs. Beatrice Newland, OXFAM Gender and Justice Coordinator, said the issue of violence against women and girls, has to involve young men because they have key role in ending it.
“And in order to advocate for violence against women and girls, one has to be educated, because education plays a very important role in young people’s lives.”
“The more educated you are, you can make better choices in life, especially for women and girls, if you are educated, it helps to reduce the gender gap.”
“In the case of children coming from abusive homes, I would say when children grow up in these abusive homes, and see it to be normal for a man to beat his wife, so they will also perpetrate violence against others.”
“If young people see such things happening in their communities or homes, they have the right to report it. Violence against any woman or girl is wrong and should not be condoned in any society,” said Mrs. Newland.
For her part, Mrs. Marpue Speare, Executive Director of WONGOSOL, said during the 16 Days of Activism, they hyped the awareness to sensitize young people, both sexes, about violence against women and girls. And they usually invite young men because most often men are the perpetrators of violence against women.
“We notice in abusive homes, where the fathers usually beat their wives, the older boys will start beating on their younger sisters and brothers.”
“Some parents would normally sleep in the same room with their children and allow them to see what they are not supposed to see, and when they leave for work, the children will experiment what they have seen their parents do.”
“Therefore we have to be careful as parents.”
Touching on why some girls would encourage their boyfriends to beat them, Mrs. Speare said she does not want to believe that young girls will have such notion of their boyfriends beating them to show them love.
“If a man really loves you, he won’t hurt you, because love is not something that is mixed with violence.”
“This is why we are creating these forums to talk to the young people.”