MONROVIA – As the occurrence of exploitation and abuse goes on the increase across Liberia, Medica Liberia, a non-governmental women’s right organization working in Liberia, has embarked upon the establishment and implementation of comprehensive policy guidelines for the protection against sexual exploitation and abuse.
The policy guidelines for the protection against sexual exploitation and abuse which is on the verge of being officially adopted was on Wednesday, May 11. 2022, finally reviewed by stakeholders from the education, gender, and justice ministries, at the Head office of Actionaid in Old Road, Liberia.
The document as disclosed during its final review considers the Prevention, Reporting And Responding, Prevention Of SEA, Raising Awareness, Communication and Dissemination of information, Background checks, Training, Mechanism for Reporting of SEA cases, disciplinary measures in case of violation, Adherence to the Guideline, Implementation of the Guideline.
It also identifies the purpose, Scope, Core principles, roles and responsibilities of students, School Staff, Parents, Partners, and others associated with the school.
The purpose of the guideline as embedded in its dossier is to prevent, investigate, and respond to SEA cases brought to the school’s attention. This guideline will not tolerate SEA between school staff and students, among school staff and among students.
It applies to staff, students, volunteers, Parent and Teachers Association (PTA) members, and others associated directly with the school. In addition, this guideline applies to all types of schools, public, private, faith-based, and community.
It basically considers the repeated occurrence of Abuse of Power, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, schools administrators, staff, survival, or victims and partners.
However, part two (2) of the policy work provides the role and responsibilities of students which provides that students are encouraged to abstain and refuse any sexual activity with school staff as such relationships can be marked by inherently unequal power dynamics. However, an interaction between students and staff that results in SEA will in no situation be deemed a failure of the students to abstain because this guideline recognizes the power imbalance that surrounds cases of SEA.
Medica believes Students are to be encouraged to abstain and refuse any sexual activity with school staff as such relationships can be marked by inherently unequal power dynamics. However, an interaction between students and staff that results in SEA will in no situation be deemed a failure of the students to abstain because this guideline recognizes the power imbalance that surrounds cases of SEA.
In progress with the guideline, the body at the final adoption on Tuesday, agreed to have the document for review and amended after every three years.
Howbeit, madam Ina Christenson, Program Officer Child Protection United Nations applauded the team for the initiative and being forceful on the implementation of the document.
She believes the institution should be hailed for the initiative, as the issue of sexual abuse and harassment has become a troubling nightmare in Liberia.
For her part, the representative from the Ministry of Education School Health Division, madam Mercy Johnson Mason recommended the need to have the document place a portable handbook.
Madam noted that with the significance of the document, the institution should ensure the availability of it everywhere, in all sizes and means, in order to have the message it carries spread to a wider audience
On the other hand, Mr Dixon N. Jlateh from the Women and Children Protection session if the Liberia National Police urged the significance to make exploitation criminalized.
He described the guideline as a good startup and looking forward to its implementation in the soonest time.
Meanwhile, the Advocacy Officer of Medica Liberia Madam Christiana T. Wayon asserted that considering the existence of all forms of sexual assault and abuse in every sector, the document will basically be used throughout Liberia.
It’s going to be used nationally in all schools and we are going to work toward having it in both private and public schools,” she noted.
The guidelines for the prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in. school is an Initiative of medica Liberia with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Medica Liberia (mL) formerly Medica Mondiale Liberia is a non-governmental women’s rights organization working in Liberia.
The Organization offers support to women and girls who have been affected by sexual gender-based violence (SGBV). Since 2006, medica Liberia has been implementing programs for women and girls in Liberia’s South-eastern parts and recently extended its coverage to Montserrado and Margibi Counties respectively, through funding from the German Government and other donors.