Questions are been asked on the relationship between peace and Sexual and Reproductive Health and as peace messengers, we are reminded by our interlocutors that sex plays a critical role in conflict and violence. A quick review of the use of women as sex slaves by the Japanese soldiers during the Second World War, by ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya, by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo who took women conqueringly and by the Boko
Haram in Nigeria is a stark reminder of the need to campaign against the use of sex as a weapon of violence. In Liberia, rape of women during the 14 years of unrest was high and it is still high. Rape and other forms of sexual aggression form a major trigger to conflict and violence within communities and religious organizations. Our traditional beliefs, customs and practices are indicators of measurement.
It is against this background Information on issues surrounding Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents that we initiate this month’s dialogue among peace messengers and with the same breath call for a nationwide campaign on sexual and reproductive health that would encourage young people to make informed decision, be more peaceful, equitable and healthy.
We recognize that the issues of sexual and reproductive health are exacerbated by limited knowledge, peer pressure, poverty, rapid socialization process such as the digital media, cultural taboos, limited access to health care services and contraceptives, poverty and unemployment. Therefore, the proposed nationwide campaign would be designed to encourage all Non-Government Organizations to show case their services and take action on the need for increased coverage of sexual and reproductive health services in Liberia, involving families and young people, in order to build strong relationship with communities so as to integrate SRH/HIV services into existing culture and norms, to promote acceptance, and not necessarily changing the culture.
At Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, our Intervention involves advocacy for services as provided in the UNSCR # 2250, 1325 and through weekly mentoring and coaching program for young adolescent females living in high risk communities.
Given the issues raised by several agencies on sexual and reproductive health and responding as discussant to the report/paper on “Promoting integrated SRH/HIV services for Girls at Risk and Persons with disabilities in Liberia” by Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia at the recently held Liberia Development Conference organized by USAID; there is need for further investigation and empirical evidence on the root causes of rape in the
Liberian society. A precede model of looking into the predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors would guide our behavioural interventions for promoting integrated SRH/HIV services for at risk girls and women in Liberia. We cannot overemphasize the need for an improved access to sexual and reproductive health information and services; youth friendly SRH services and support to youth centers and groups.
For purposes of continuity and programme sustenance, we also need tangible policies and legislations as well as the political will and wheels to ensure legitimacy, trust and confidence building.
A coordinated outreach and sensitization programs and nationwide campaigns, strong partnership and capacity building for young people to support positive peer culture would be essential for successful sexual and reproductive health programs in Liberia.
As mentioned in many of our articles and international fora there should be an increase in funds as well as investment in human security as this would guarantee consolidated peace and sustainable security.
And until next week we come to you with another article on sexual and reproductive health for peace campaign part 2, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time.