Liberia: MCC, MOGCSP And LCP Launch A National Roadmap Campaign to Combat SGBV

MONROVIA – The Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender and Children Protection and the Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP) has officially launched a national road map campaign on Sexual Gender Based Violence, with a call for collective efforts to combat against the societal menace at the communities’ level.

The campaign was launched on Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at a brief ceremony held at the Monrovia City Hall in Sinkor.

It seeks to intensify community engagement and advocacy meetings, community door-to-door and outreach, outreach awareness through mobile moving stage visits, among others to discourage sexual and other form of violence against women and girls in the country.

Giving an overview of the campaign, LCP Executive Director, Juli Endee observed that sexual gender based violence against women and girls remains one of the top areas that need major attention in the country.

She named the absence of a well-coordinated and consolidated approach to address the problem of violence against women and girls in Monrovia and leeward areas as one of the root causes responsible for the escalation of the societal menace.

She added that women and girls still faced the continuous problem of gender-targeted violence such as rape, ritualistic killings and other human rights abuses, particularly at the level of the communities.

Madam Endee emphasized that the increase in the number of rape cases and emerging reports of the act across the country continue to undermine the peace, young democracy and developmental progress of the country.

She added that these alarming statistics and reports on SGBV continue to strangulate the gains that have been made towards the combat against the societal ill.

She noted that the current situation makes it necessary and prudent for government to set measures that will specifically tackle violence against women, vulnerable young girls, boys and babies in the society.

“There are glowing indications in Liberia that some people are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation to continue to abuse vulnerable infants and adolescent boys and girls”.

Madam Endee stated that the high rate of illiteracy, poor awareness campaign at the community level, and family ties continue to serve as contributing factors towards the increase in SGBV.

Stigmatization

She pointed out that victims of SGBV in Liberia continue to suffer from stigmatization in their communities.

She maintained that without an effective, well-coordinated social mobilization and community engagement on violence against women and girls in response and prevention which provides education on seeking redress through the legal system, domestic and sexual gender based violence and other forms of human rights abuses will continue to be prevalent in Liberia.

Madam Endee indicated that when the situation gets prevalent, it would have a “devastating impact on Liberia”, hereby hindering government’s socio-economic development plans for the citizenry.

Growing cases

She pointed out that there currently exist a growing number of SGBV cases, especially in the rural parts of the country.

She noted that statistics shows that between January 2015 to March 2016, Liberia recorded a very high number of cases in all the fifteen counties.

Quoting a general information statistics from the Liberian government, Madam Endee disclosed that between January and July 2020, about 450 cases of statutory rape were reported, along with 100 cases of rape, 55 cases of gang related rape and 10 cases of sodomy in Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Sinoe, Gbarpolu, River Gee, Rivercess, Grand Bassa, among others.

Out of the total number of cases, she added that Montserrado along accounts for about 40%.

She pointed out that the total number of cases of domestic violence ranging from aggravated assaults with criminal intent to commit rape and other offenses additionally shows that women and girls are the ones victimized the most in domestic homes.

Consolidate efforts

Madam Endee observed that though government, through the Ministry of Gender has setup structures in the various counties to report and combat against SGBV, efforts must be consolidated if the menace is to be minimized across the country.

She pointed out that under the latest road map launched, the LCP which has been working with victims and survivors of SGBV, will engage into community engagements in various communities in the capital and other areas.

According to her, the group is currently carrying out advocacy and media engagement through flyers, posters, banners, among others.

She disclosed that motorbikes will be given to specific individuals to carry on supervision within their respective areas of assignment.

Madam Endee used the occasion to commend President George Manneh Weah, who is considered as the Feminist-In-Chief for his high level of support towards the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls in Liberia.

According to her, the launch of the initiative is a pre-birthday gift to the Liberia Chief Executive who continues to champion the cause of women and girls in the society.

For her part, the Assistant Minister for Children and Social Protection, Madam Maminah Carr-Gaye, recalled that during the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in July 2020, huge number of SGBV cases were reported and documented by the ministry.

She said following the sharp increase in the number of cases reported documented and recommendations proffered, the Liberian Chief Executive mandated the relevant authorities to setup an inter-ministerial taskforce to formulate a roadmap to find solutions to the problem.

She stated that local stakeholders were engaged following the holdings of multiple consultations and the document was finally crafted.

Minister Gaye noted that the lack of one-stop-center and hospitals to speed up cases of rape in some counties make it difficult to combat against SGBV.

She used the occasion to call for the collective fight against SGBV and other forms of abuse against minors, women and young boys in Liberia.

“We came up with the roadmap and this roadmap is not a government owned document. This is a roadmap that was drafted by all civil society actors, teachers, parents and others. It is a roadmap that is being owned by the country as a whole. I am happy to be here today working along with MCC to see them launch this initiative. The fight against SGBV is not only a government fight”.

Speaking when he proxy for Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, Mr. Cain Andrews, Director for Operations, disclosed that the “collaborative fight” will immensely contribute towards helping to eliminate SGBV and discourage perpetrators from engaging into the unwholesome act.

He pledged the MCC’s “comprehensive commitment” to the fight at all levels.

He said violence against women and girls, especially rape show not be compromised or downplayed by anyone.

Mr. Andrews added that women and girls will be marginalized or denied deserving opportunities in an out of Liberia if the necessary steps are not taken to arrest the situation.

He encouraged Liberians and others to follow-up on rape cases from the reporting stage to its logical conclusion.

“Rape is a felony offense but what can we do to address it? We need to look at the systems and those responsible to fight against the menace. In addition to the process of reporting, the issue of follow-up is key. Many people can report the cases to the Ministry of Gender, the police or to the court. Do you follow up as parents.”

“Sometimes, you go home and get tire and think that you will not get redress. By so doing, you have defeated your purpose. To address this, you should take the lead to follow up on cases. No court will turn down your case, or want to look into a case where there is one party.”

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