The Ministry of Education (MOE) has promised to work with Safe Cities for Women in partnership with Actionaid Liberia to put an end to the alarming reports of “sex for grades” in higher institutions of learning across the country.
At the petitioning program of Actionaid Safe Cities for Women on Monday at the MOE, the Deputy Minister for Instruction, Romelle A.Horten, said the issue of Sexual Gender Base Violence (SGBV) is deeply engraved within the fabric of the society which needs immediate action to address the issue.
“SGBV is deeply engraved within the fabric of our society, but we will work together in helping to put an end to the practice in our universities, not only for our women, but the men that are also faced with the same problem,” Madam Horten asserted.
She promised to work along with Actionaid Safe Cities for Women to help put an end to SGBV in all of the universities in the country.
The petition statement was presented to Deputy Minister Horten by Jimishua Dahn of the United Methodist University (UMU). He said Actionaid has recognized that violence against women in public spaces is a threat to women realizing their full potentials and a threat to the survival of women.
The petition quoted the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) Article 2 ‘c’ which calls for the establishment of legal protection for the rights of women on an equal basis with men and ensure through competent national tribunals and other public institutions the protection of women against any forms of discrimination.
“We now therefore petition the authorities of universities and other higher institutions of learning to recognize the existence of SGBV, harassments, sexual exploitations on campuses and outside at local and international levels.
“Government needs to recognize the existence of gender base violence in universities or higher education learning spaces and respond by effectively promoting and monitoring laws and policies to address the issues.
Faculty members must demand and ensure professionalism from instructional staff,” she said.
Students from UMU, the University of Liberia, African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), Cuttington University among others in the counties have therefore agreed to establish an anti-SGBV policy that will deal directly with demands for sex from female students by their instructors and other forms of harassments, support zero tolerance policy on institutional sexism and promote ‘gender responsive’ public services of women’s health care, transport and policing needs.
Madam Ernestine Ledlum of Actionaid Women and Girls Program Unit, who discussed the main focus of the petition, said it seeks to put an end to SGBV in universities.
In 2011, the women carried out a survey in all the universities across the country during which they found out that the issue of sex for grades was on the rise.
Madam Ledlum expressed the hope to achieve laws and policies to be put in place to punish would-be perpetrators.
She said when supported by the MOE, the petition will minimized the high rate of SGBV in schools.