medica Liberia Launches Anti-SEA Committees in High Schools

Medica Liberia, a non-governmental women’s rights feminist organization in Liberia, has established and trained Anti Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Committees (SEA)  in five high schools in Southeastern Liberia.

With funding from Montica, the project known as ‘Empowering Teachers, Students, and Parents to Take Action against School-Related Gender-Based Violence in South-East Liberia’ is aimed at educating local stakeholders on the alarming prevalence of school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and equipping school actors with the necessary skills and knowledge to identify, report, and prevent SRGBV in schools.

The project implementation begins with Sinoe County and aims to respond to School-Related Gender-Based violence (SRGBV) by improving the safety of the school environment, building the capacities of school actors to address SRGBV, developing SRGBV prevention and response, and engaging in national-level advocacy for strengthening policies on the elimination of SRGBV.

The project currently targets five high schools in Sinoe County, namely Sinoe Multilateral High School, Harrison Grigsby Methodist School, St. Paul Parish High School, Seebeh High School, and J. Milton Teahjay High School in Tarjuowon District. Medical Liberia has established an Anti-SEA committee and boys and girls clubs on SRGBV in each of the selected high schools.

The project has also provided training for school administrators, principals, teachers, parents, and students to identify, report, and become agents of change in curbing SRGBV in schools. The setup began with establishing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse committees that involve local stakeholders: school administrators, parents, teachers, etc.

The establishment of the anti-sexual exploitation and abuse clubs in the five schools marks a significant milestone in medica’s ongoing efforts to enhance the safety of our school environment. These newly formed committees have been specifically created to address a major gap that has been identified— the lack of robust protection structures.

The SEA committee will help to address cases arising out of the schools, have reporting responsibility, and be required to report SRGBV cases and take steps to avoid them. The committee will also ensure that all cases are reported within 72 hours, avoid compromising cases, ensure emergency medical care to survivors, ensure the protection of victims, and help survivors seek justice.

Additionally, the establishment of boys and girls clubs will serve as a valuable complement to the efforts of the Anti-SEA committees. These clubs will provide a dedicated space where youth can come together, learn, interact, and actively raise awareness about issues related to sexual and Gender-Based violence (SRGBV). By engaging students directly; the clubs will empower them to take an active role in combating SRGBV and fostering positive relationships within the school community.

Sexual exploitation and abuse are prevalent, and the project aims to ensure that the schools remain safe places for students to learn in an environment that does not tolerate any form of abuse. The project's intervention will include providing direct support to survivors' psycho-social, health, access to justice, and advocacy needs.

During the training, participants shared their experiences and learned about the nature and scope of gender-based violence (GBV), a pervasive issue that has severe and lasting impacts on survivors. Through this initiative, medica Liberia seeks to create a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and hopes to inspire others to take concrete actions toward preventing and addressing SRGBV and GBV in their communities.

It can be noted that the project, was launched on February 17 at the Ministry of Education with medica Liberia Country Director, Atty. Yah Vallah Parwon, presenting the project to the Ministry of Education and other key stakeholders.

Juanita Ramirez represented the donor organization, Montica; while Assistant Minister Tarnue Mawolo Bogolee for Student Personal Services represented the Ministry of Education and pledged the Ministry’s support and commitment to the implementation of the project.

The project builds on medica Liberia's recent project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and developed guidelines for the prevention and response of sexual exploitation and abuse in medical Liberia intervention schools. 

medica Liberia, formerly medica Mondiale Liberia, is a non-governmental women's rights organization working in Liberia. mL works with survivors of Gender-Based violence and provides a holistic stress trauma-sensitive approach that incorporates health, legal, and psychosocial approaches based on feminist principles.