Ministry of Justice Re-emphasizes Commitment to Combat SGBV, Harmful Traditional Practices

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Robertsports, Grand Cape Mount County – A prosecutor and Program Officer of SGBV Crimes Unit at the Ministry of Justice, Atty. Josephine S. Grose has indicated that her ministry is prepared to institute measures to combat Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) that is currently on the increase in the Liberian society.

Atty. Grose made the remark at a three day Capacity Building Training for Criminal Justice Chain Actors in Robertsports, Grand Cape Mount County recently. There, she reiterated that during the year under review, sexual and gender crimes have been on the increase in Liberia.

Speaking to the participants, Atty. Grose said, there have been numerous cases in Liberia relative to Sexual Gender Based Violence that have caused serious health problem for those affected; noting that such act in most cases have led to the death of some minors.

She further indicated that due to the high increase of SGBV cases, the Weah-led Government instituted a US$2 million road map in order to eradicate violence against women and children.

“We need to fight this issue together, and let us stop compromising SGBV cases so that our children can be safe. As criminal Justice chain actors, this is the time that we need to help national government in this fight”, the anti-sexual crime campaigner implored the participants.

Atty. Grose at the same time encouraged participants to be more proactive in the fight against SGBV, harmful traditional Practices and while utilizing the knowledge gained from the three days training.

According to the SGBV Program Officer at the Ministry of Justice, there are various ways that the offense of rape can be committed.

This she said, “under chapter 14, section 14.70 of the rape law, a person who has sexual intercourse with another person (male or female) has committed rape if : He intentionally penetrates the vagina, mouth, anus or any other opening of another person (male or female) with his penis, without the victim’s consent”.

She further noted: “If the survivor is less than 18 years and the actor is 18 year or above, the offense is referred to as statutory rape and consent is not the requirement because the statute chapter 11.11a of the Juvenile Procedure Code and the Children’s Law of 2011 considers an  under 18 as a child/juvenile”.

Atty. Grose at the same time, promised that her department at the Ministry of Justice will work tirelessly in the fight against SGBV and other harmful traditional practices, calling on justice chain actors to not relent until crime against women and children is minimized in Liberia.

Also speaking, the Program Field Officer of the Spotlight Initiative, Abraham B. Kanneh, said SGBV has been one of the issues affecting women and children, as such there is a need for adequate awareness in towns, villages, cities and the entire country.

The Program Field Officer said, women and children are being abused on a daily basis in the country by men, noting that it is time that their safety be prioritized.

“Women are the backbone of men, so let us stand strong to fight SGBV. As we have gathered here today, in fighting violence against women, let us be sincere in reporting and adjudicating cases in the interest of our sisters, mothers and little brothers who are being victimized by bad people”, Kanneh admonished the participants.

The training marked the second phase of the criminal justice Actors training that is meant to convey the response and prevention of Sexual Gender Based Violence and harmful traditional practices and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Violations in Liberia.

For her part, the Training & Outreach Coordinator, SGBV Crime Unit/MOJ, Linda B. Saygbe said, it emphasized that the first phase in 2020, targeted Justice and Security actors, SGBV Nurses, Social workers, Court Actors, Civil society organizations and among others.

Speaking to journalists, at the close of the training, Mrs. Saygbe explained that “the essence of the second phase is to strengthen response and accountability to enhance prosecution of Sexual and Gender -Based Violence, harmful traditional practices and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights in Liberia.

She said: “National government and Traditional Council had reached an agreement, that when English schools are open, traditional schools should be close for the smooth learning outcome of school going kids, and we are not against we are not against our culture, but there are other harmful practices that we are trying to curtail.”

She continued: “We are not saying that Female Genital Mutilation is wrong, but when it goes against someone’s right to consent, then there is a problem. If an adult woman wants to go to the Sande Bush willingly, it is ok. But nobody should force her to go there. On the other hand, fundamentally everyone has rights. Therefore, other people who choose to be LGBTs be protected because internationally, they are protected… so, we must respect their fundamental human rights”, the Training & Outreach Coordinator informed the participants.”

For their parts, two of the participants, Jokon Brown of the Sinje Health Center and Pauline Nimely, Grand Cape Mount County Social Worker supervisor said the training was educative as it eradicated false notion about Sexual Gender Based Violence and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights.

According to Brown, he was able to understand the referral path way when it comes to Sexual Gender Bases Violence.

He, at the same time appreciated the organizer and recommended that the training should continue in the 15 counties of Liberia.

Pauline Nimely admitted that the topics taught for the three days were key to her duty at the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, as it expanded her knowledge when it comes to gender issues.

The training was organized by the SGBV-Crimes Unit at the Ministry of Justice and funded by the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with the Government of Liberia with support from UNDP Liberia

 The objectives were to build the capacity of criminal justice chain actors in responding to SGBV cases and harmful traditional practices, eliminate violence against women and girls, empower justice actors to ensure that gender issues are mainstreamed and create a platform for networking and sharing information among stakeholders.

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