Liberia: Domestic Violence Bill Set for Passage

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MONROVIA – The Domestic Violence Bill is set to be passed on Tuesday, FrontPageAfrica has learned. The bill had been languishing committee rooms at the Legislature since 2014 when it was introduced. The passage would be landmark for gender equity in Liberia.

The House Joint Committee on Judiciary, Gender Equity, Child Development and Social Services and Good Governance & Reform held a public hearing on the Act on Wednesday, June 26 at Hotel Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

The Chairman of the Joint Committee, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa told the passage of the bill now is critically important to the entire movement for the advocacy for women and children in Liberia.  

“This is a landmark legislation that will help us start to move forward to a more civilized society that recognizes the rights of the vulnerable among us.  It’s time to stop beating our chest and doing something.  This legislation is an important start and I applaud the female lawmakers with the guts to proffer it,” he told FrontPageAfrica.

Stance on FGM

Speaking on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Rep. Koffa said the Domestic Violence Bill did not contain anything on FGM when it was brought before him. 

“We didn’t remove FGM from the Domestic Violence Act as reported. The Act did not contain FGM. It’s a stand-alone bill,” he said.

Cllr. Koffa said he supports the ban on Female Genital Mutilation and hoped that there will be a legislative action on it soon.

“The bill before me did not contain FGM. I am told that is for a different stand-alone bill. My views on FGM are well known. I remain opposed to FGM in any form and at any age,” he said. 

“This is a landmark legislation that will help us start to move forward to a more civilized society that recognizes the rights of the vulnerable among us.  It’s time to stop beating our chest and doing something.  This legislation is an important start and I applaud the female lawmakers with the guts to proffer it” – Rep. J. Fonati Koffa

Cllr. Koffa added: “In spite of my own position on FGM, I still think we should pass this Domestic Violence Bill. We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. No one is precluded from proffering an FGM bill.”

The Domestic Violence Bill addresses issues like emotional abuse, harassment, physical abuse, economic domination through deprivation, school-based violence, among others. 

Wednesday’s public hearing included several stakeholders who gathered to give their expert opinion on the bill. They include the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Independent Human Rights Commission, Liberia Reform Commission, United Nations Children Fund, UNAIDS, The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia, Embassy of Sweden and the United Nations Population Fund.

Others include OXFAM, The National Traditional Council of Liberia, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Liberia National Rural Women Structure, National Civil Society Organization Secretariat, Action Aid, Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia, USAID, Medica Liberia, Kvinna Till Kvinna, European Union and the U.S. Embassy.

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