Liberia: ‘Amend Rape Law, Establish Domestic Violence Fund’

— “WeAareUnproteted” calls for the establishment of a Sex Offender Registry, ending atrocities against women and girls 

A group under the hash-tag campaign banner, “#WeAreUnprotected”, has called on the Government of Liberia to set up a domestic violence fund and sex offender registry to help end the many atrocities against women and girls in the workplace, school, and Liberia at large, and support victims of abuse and timely access to justice. 

“Victims are often left alone to face their trauma and often left with their families who cannot afford for them to go through our justice system. However, the domestic funds, if available, will address this issue. Our government must end violence against women and girls in all its forms,” said Musa Kamara, one of the campaigners who read the 16 demands. 

The group made the call on Saturday, December 10, at the climax of this year’s 16 days of activism held at Smart Liberia in Sinkor. As part of its 16 demands they called on the government to amend the rape law to ensure that judges are rotated every term of court.

The group emphasized the setup of a ‘sex offender registry’ because many times sex offenders go from one community to another and are not being held accountable for their offenses, while family members continue to hide them knowing that they have not changed.

This year’s 16 days of activism against gender based violence brought together women and girls and their male counterparts, in solidarity with survivors, to call for accountability for the lives damaged and lost to sexual and gender-based violence. Candles were lit along with spoken word delivered to honor the memories of lives lost.

“The government should end impunity for female genital mutilation (FGM) and prosecute traditional actors engaging into forceful initiation. There has been an executive order, yet the practice is still ongoing,” Kamara maintained.

The group further called for ending violence against women human rights defenders, and the provision of adequate funding to enable them to do their work as well as the space to do it. “We are at risk because of what we do as human rights defenders,” they said.

“Protect our girls in school and conduct background checks on those coming in contact with the girls. Child protection should be of priority in Liberia and at this time. Our government should protect the rights of workers under conditions marked by decency and equality without sexual harassment and exploitation,” the group stressed.

They said safe homes have been underfunded over the years, therefore called on the government to ensure that enough resources are available for safe homes because this is the place survivors go for counseling, care and other forms of support.

Kamara added that “the government should make policy that provides safe space for women to participate freely, and end negative social cultural norms that hold women back.”

Keturah Beyan-Sie, a member of the group, said women and girls go through a lot, both in school and at home.

“It is time for us to come together and raise our voices to end violence against women and girls and ensure that they are protected.  One institution cannot do it for us,” she said.