‘Don’t Dehumanize GBV Victims’

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The executive director of the Bassa Women Association (BAWODA), Madam Martha Flanjay-Karnga, has cautioned health workers, family members and community people in the country to stop dehumanizing, discriminating against or exposing HIV/Aids patients and victims of gender-based violence.

Madam Flanjay-Karnga made the utterance recently when she addressed the opening of two separate health related workshops, which centered on gender-based violence and AIDS control in Buchanan.

She said whatever the status of the victims of AIDS, rape or other forms of gender-based violence, ordinary patients, including health workers, family members and community people should not discriminate against them, but rather give the victims equal care and treatment, since they are still living and form part of society.

Her utterance, she said, came in the wake of keen observation she made and experience that she has had with some health workers, family members and community people, who are given to exposing and disparaging GBV victims, as well as people suffering from HIV. “This is simply pathetic and may very well dehumanize the victims,” she said in a statement.

She said that both health workshops were organized by BAWODA, sponsored by GLOBAL Fund and through the instrumentality of Action Aid. She lauded the organizers and supporters for the gesture, which she described as timely.

The BAWODA executive director admonished the 20 participants, who came from Grand Bassa and Rivercess counties, to share with their colleagues who were not fortunate to attend knowledge acquired from the workshop.

The facilitator, Mr. G. Moses Jackson, who is from the HIV/AIDS and Clinical Mentor  of the National Aids Control of Liberia and assigned at the St. Peter Catholic Health Center in Buchanan, disclosed that rape victims present at the workshop, although authorized health centers can give them lifetime drugs, will receive PEP treatment. He mentioned that patients tested negative for rape can receive PEP treatment for up to 28 days.

He advised parents and community dwellers not to compromise rape cases but report them immediately to the police first and then to the hospital for thorough examination. The reporting should be done within 72 hours before the disease becomes chronic, he said.

The second workshop was facilitated by an officer of the Women and Child Protection Division of the Grand Bassa County Police Detachment, Enoch M. Dunbar, who named the elements of rape as the doers (rapists) who, he said, are guilty of an international crime.

Officer Dunbar said that rape is committed through the penetration of any opening of the body, be it the ears, nose, mouth, anus or vagina, with the victims often coerced and intimidated by their abusers.

He mentioned the various types of rape as Marta Rape, Statutory Rape, Gang Rape, and Sodomy Rape (man to man or woman to woman).

He also named other sexual offenses as Sexual Abuse of wards, which he said involves teachers having sexual affairs with students for grades promotion; or employers having affairs with employees for jobs.

At the close of the workshops, the participants from Grand Bassa and Rivercess counties shared their experiences, explaining instances when they have had to face sexual exploitations.  Some narrated that their parents had forced them into affairs with men far beyond their ages, in order to lessen their financial problems.

Thanking BAWODA and its sponsors for the knowledge imparted to  them, they promised to share with others what they had learned at the workshops.

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