Liberia: Senate Must Concur on Passage of Domestic Violence Law

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THE HOUSE of Representatives has made what is unarguably its best move so far this year by passing for signing into the law the Domestic Violence Act.

THERE’S AN ongoing debate about the FGM aspect which the House says will be treated as a separate law. For us, we think the politics of the FGM remains a complicated topic that needs to be dissected meticulously.

THE EUROPEAN UNION, one of Liberia’s major donors and partners has over the years contributed actively toward the elimination of FGM. Obviously, they look forward toward a positive action being taken towards FGM, too. 

WE THINK this is the politics of lawmaking which these lawmakers are employing to avert possibly angering the country’s traditional community – a strong based of the electorate. FGM remains an entrenched traditional practice in Liberia and outlawing the act would require a massive political will by the legislature.

MEANWHILE, these lawmakers must be lauded for passing into law the long-awaited Domestic Violence Act. It has now put the onus on the Senate to concur, something we suggest, they must do the soonest. 

THIS LAW, we think, gives birth a new dispensation for ensuring the rights of women and children who are mostly victims of domestic violence. 

THERE HAVE been numerous delays considering the length of time the bill languished at the Capitol.

THE BILL was first introduced in 2014 as an upgraded version of the Liberian domestic violence laws as contained in Chapter 16 of the penal code.

THE FIRST VERSION stalled at the Legislature because it criminalized FGM, a traditional practice that many have recognized as a violent and inhumane act.  

THE ACT that has been passed defines domestic violence as “any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, men, or children, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life between parties in an existing or former domestic relationship.”

WITH THIS passage by the House we are now calling on the Senate to act swiftly by concurring. The open support for the Act by our international partners gives us the view that this law would improve the image of the government’s commitment to protecting human rights.

THE PRESENCE of United States and Sweden Ambassadors on the grounds of the Capitol a day before the bill was passed epitomizes the significance of the law and the interest it has drawn.  

A LOT OF VIOLENCE against women have been taking place with impunity. Women’s dignity has been trampled upon and some continue to live with the scar of violence. Some children today live in a world of trauma due to violence meted on them. This can only end when the Senate speedily concurs with the House for this Act to signed into law. This can only end if the issue of FGM is abolished or controlled by some sort of legislation.

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