The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Crimes Unit at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has trained traditional and community leaders on how to report SGBV in their various areas.
The training was sponsored by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and held in the Conference Hall of the Gbarnga Justice and Security Regional Hub in Bong County.
It brought together 22 participants who came from Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee and Maryland counties. Hosted with the traditional leaders to help them reduce the high rate of SGBV in the country, the training took place under the theme, “Improving Community Response to SGBV.”
Participants were allowed to share their experiences in reporting SGBV cases, gaps/challenges, lessons learnt and recommendations to mitigate those challenges.
Moreover, participants were made to understand and appreciate their roles in handling SGBV cases in their respective communities.
They were informed about free medical, treatment, examination and psychosocial services available and accessible for survivors and the importance of prompt reporting, availing oneself to the hospital immediately after an abuse and cooperating with the police during investigation and the crimes unit during prosecution.
Topics that were presented during the training were on basically on SGBV Crimes and Laws, SGBV Referral Pathway with a focus on the role of the family, health care providers, Police and SGBV crimes unit, the purpose of the SGBV Crimes Unit 24 hours hotline service as well as psychosocial services, victim centered approach in handling SGBV cases, prosecutorial services and case prosecution.
Cllr. H. Deddeh Jomah Wilson, Acting Chief Prosecutor of SGBV Crimes Unit said the workshop was conducted to minimize the culture of silence and impunity as incidences of SGBV continue to be alarming in some parts of the country, and under-reported in other counties.
It aims to strengthen and promote communities’ and civil society participation and cooperation in strategies at minimizing rape law, thus reducing the resort to violence or alternative practice of justice such as mob violence or compromise, to ensure that survivors of SGBV have access to justice regardless of their location.
The participants recommended that similar training should be conducted in their respective communities for community dwellers, who live in small or remote towns and villages and have no prior experience with the legal system, and do not know what to do in sexual violence cases, to encourage them to come forward by reporting and pursuing their cases.
They promised to share their knowledge acquired from the training, as well as hold community meetings, to ensure that the fliers/posters containing public education messages in simple English about rape and other forms of SGBV they received are placed in crowded places such as markets, parking stations, video clubs and school campuses as their contribution to the Unit.