Return to Arthington After 12 Years; Her Voice-Liberian and Liberia Initiative for Empowerment Renovate Zone 6 Police Station
Monrovia – At long last residents of rural Montserrado County now have access to justice following the completion and turning over of a modern renovated police station in zone 6 Arthington City by Her Voice-Liberia and the Liberia Initiative For Empowerment (LIFE).
The renovation work was achieved after the two groups assessed the security needs of residents, and came to the realization that something was necessary to mobilize resources for the renovation of the Police station.
The program was graced by the Swedish Ambassador, Ingrid Wetterqvist and an array of officials of the Liberia National Police, headed by Inspector General Patrick Sudue and other Civil Society Organizations.
It can be recalled that the station was put on fire by residents of Arthington in 2008 when they demanded the police to turnover a suspect to them but the officers refused leading to the destruction of the station.
Speaking during the program, Her Voice Liberia Executive Director Atty Margaret Nigba said they got to know about the needs of the people in that part of the country during the outbreak of Covid 19.
“During the COVID in Liberia, we deployed monitors in some parts of Montserrado to be able to work and respond on Sexual and Gender Based Violence issues because of the increase in RAPE and SGBV” Atty Nigba said.
According to her, during the process they launched a hotline program to tackle SGBV cases even though its the responsibility of the police to fight crimes.
She averred that criminal justice starts with the police, noting that if they are to make a change in communities the involvement of the police is needed.
Said Atty. Nigba: “We also notice some of the challenges the women and Police were faced with in addressing SGBV cases. Sometimes when people are raped, the alleged perpertrator gets away and women have issues getting to the police station. Some of them had challenges in terms of transportation. But we as a small organinzation with the passion and willingness to work decided to work with governmnet in order to make a change to fight this deadly thing “Rape” because it has been declared a national emergency”.
“We notice that the police station here was not functional it got burned since 2008 by the citizens of this community. So, we talked to the Police Commander here and they did an estimate and told us some of the challenges and issues that they had. I reached out to LIFE and she grace the idea for us to do it together and both of us came together as a team and renovated the police station small small starting with the roof to what we have now,” Her Voice head explained.
Atty. Nigba explained that the organization is grateful to have done the Police station as a team in order to support national government efforts and to make themselves available for the women and girls of Liberia to fight Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Liberia.
The Executive Director of Her Voice added that they are not only turning over the police station to the police but will continue their relationship with the police in the fight against SGBV issues and called on the national government to do the same at other police stations across the country. “I want us as Liberians to take SGBV issues to not be a common issue or just a report but to see it as a criminal offense and we as stakeholders, the women and people in the community, we should not embrace this thing, but rather show that we are ready and about to fight,” Atty. Nigba lamented.
For her part Liberia Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) head Jodie Reid -Seton said it is unfortunate that men will be in the constant habit of beating women, something she said attracted them to renovate the police station. “What brought our attention to this area is the beating, the raping and the things that they can do to the women that is hurting them, that’s what brought us to assist the people,” Mrs. Seton said
“Today the police station is here, it’s just the building, the transaction and the things that will happen in here is what will make Arthington City a unique place, that Arthington City will be an example to other communities because we are not stopping here. We are not going to renovate a place and just leave it and allow the police and the community to do what they want to do, we going to monitor, we are going to hold the police accountable ,we have played our part, it’s time for the police and community to play their part’”
Madam Seton added: “We want SGBV cases to be handled with care and seriousness because our bodies belong to us, nobody has control over what you say, there is NO EXCUSE for rape, NO EXCUSE for Sexual Gender Based Violence, no man has the right to put his hands on a woman and we are calling on the community to work with the police,” Madam Seton said..
She said the women and community leaders have complained about the increase in SGBV in the area due to the lack of access to justice that is why they have taken the responsibility of renovating the station and equipped it with the Women and Children Protection section of Zone 6 Depot 4. “We will keep working on it until the men stop beating on us and taking advantage of our bodies we will keep creating noise, this is just the beginning there are different communities we will take our engagement to,” Mrs. Seton asserted.
Madam Seton urged parents not to support their children when they do bad things like RAPE and SGBV by not turning them over for proper investigation something she feel need to be discouraged by community residents.
Also speaking Police IG Sudue said he is overwhelmed by the impact made by the two organizations he considered small organizations and asure the women that their voice will be listened to by the LNP at all times. “This police Station was destroyed by fire from your same community but because of rape issue the sation has been renovated. I am saying to all the men in Arthington please zip your pants, how will you feel if one of you seated here,your little daughter comes to you in the morning to say ‘daddy I was raped’. As a father will you feel happy? This rape business must stop, we the men we have to stop,” Inspector General Sudue said..
He said those who are engage in raping little children are sick and have mental problem because it is only a sick man that can do such harmful things.
The Inspector General said there should be an increase in the prison sentence for those who rape, something he feels will discourage rapists. “For me I already proposed to the government if it is left with me making the law you will go to jail for 50 years for raping any woman above 18 years, if you rape anyone below 18 you will go to life imprisonment and you will remain there and rotten there but maybe the government will step it up because our law says they can jail you for any thing from ten 10 years, if you rape anybody above eighteen and eighteen but what is happening now people getting ten years and it’s like I am going to rest small I will still come back so there must be an increment in punishment for these people,” Col. Sudue added.