Liberia: Women Protest against Continuous Violence, Intimidation against Female Political Actors
Monrovia – Wednesday’s torrential downpour could not derail the women’s plan to carry on their sit-in action. They prostrated in a straight file on the sidewalk before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the Office President George Weah is located demanding an end to intimidation and violence against women, especially in politics.
They came under the banner ‘Women of Liberia On Women’s Peace and Security’.
Their protest was one intended to draw the attention of President Weah and the nation to their disgust to the recent waves of violence and brutality meted against women without any perpetrator being brought to book.
Even President Weah, they believe, has been one of the instigators of violence against in recent time.
“The Government of Liberia must move beyond condemnation and act in accordance to its constitutional mandate to end the continuing and pervasive violence against all women in Liberia,” the women said in a statement.
According to the women, violence against women, be it domestic, economic, political, sexual harassment, rape and abuse, continues to be the most pervasive human rights violation affecting women and girls in Liberia.
They argued that it continues to deny women the freedom, autonomy, access, and opportunities and marginalize their voice, participation and ability to exercise their civic and political rights.
“The recent electoral related violence is horrifying and calls for swift actions to curtail these acts of violence. It not only has the propensity to undermine the peace [hard fought for and won by Liberian women], but also to continue to encourage a culture of impunity that promote the low socio-economic status of women and girls in Liberia, irrespective of class, age, ethnicity, ability, orientation, education, political affiliation and income level. We note that the failure on the part of the Government to fix the justice system and ensure timely access to Justice is eroding citizens, especially women, trust and confidence in the state as the primary duty bearer. This comes despite our demands to take measures to protect women and girls from violence and recommendations we have put forward,” their statement said.
The disenchanted women raised expressed concern over the recent act of violence in District 15 by-elections on August 17, 2019 involving female political candidate, Ms. Telia Urey.
“This disappointingly follows previous electoral violence in the same District earlier this month and recent reports of cyber bullying against senatorial candidate, Paulita Wie. We also remind the Government of similar acts of violence against another female candidate in District 13 by-election, Cornelia Kruah-Togba and the leaked sex videos during 2017 elections,” they noted.
The women called on all political parties and stakeholders concerned to operate within the confines of the law, adding that those who have grievances will use the judicial means to address their issue.
What the Women Want
The women called on the President to ensure that the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice investigate the police officers who witnessed but did not intervene in the assaults in District 13, District 15 and at the National Elections Commission.
“We request an independent and impartial investigation into these incidents and that the results be made accessible to the general public within 2 months,” the penned in their petition to President Weah.
The women want Commissioner Walter Rays of the Liberia National Police (105) suspended with immediate effect for his alleged repeated refusal to intervene in violent assaults against citizens perpetrated in his presence, and order an investigation into his conduct for further punitive actions.
The Liberia Feminist Movement called on President Weah to, in the interest of peace, and to create a safe political space, his statement calling for violence against female political candidates and institute a zero-tolerance policy against government officials and political parties making comments that promote violence and derogation against women and girls.
They called for the provision of increased security presence throughout District 15 in the days immediately preceding and following the rerun date and until the winner is announced. Particular attention should be given to the six precincts that fall under the NEC’s mandate.
The women: “We remain resolute in our calls for gender equality, the end to patriarchal norms, values and beliefs and promotion of women socio-economic, cultural, civic and political rights. We therefore demand the following:
“That the Liberia National Police and the Judiciary act with speed and conduct investigations into the recent incidents of violence in the two By-elections and timely resolution.
“That the Government (inclusive of the Current legislature) strengthen the capacity and resourcing of the Women and Child Protection Unit of the Liberian National Police and Criminal Court “E”. This includes budgetary allocation to these institutions and support services for survivors. “That the National Elections Commissions upholds it mandate to act swiftly in addressing political parties found liable in perpetrating acts of violence and commence a nationwide public education on protecting women civic and political rights.”