‘More Rape Cases, Despite Ebola’

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The Minister of Gender Children and Social Protection, Julia Duncan Cassell, has disclosed that in the wake of the Ebola epidemic in the country, women and children are still being violated.

 Min.Cassell said different forms of violence are still being perpetrated against women and children including sexual and domestic violence, child abuse and harmful traditional practices.

Her statement kicked off the 16 days of activism under the global theme: “Call to Action- Intersection between Violence against Women and Health!”  and the National theme: “For the Health of Women and the Nation; Take Action to End Ebola and All Forms of Violence against Women.”

Giving statistics of violence against women and children, Min. Cassell said the Children and Social Protection GBV statistics from January to September 2014 show that a total of 942 cases were reported.  Of this number 450 were rape cases. 401 of the 450 reported rape cases were perpetrated against children between the ages of 0-17 years.

Domestic violence which includes persistent non – support as well as abandonment and spousal battering accounted for 467 cases. 25 cases were attributed to harmful traditional practices as well as other forms of violence.

“Between July and September, 80% of survivors of violence were denied access to medical services due to the health workers fear of contracting the Ebola virus. Two children ages 10 and 13 died as a result of rape during this period,” the minister reported.

She asserted that in the light of the statistics, there is a need to revisit our approach to addressing sexual and domestic violence.

“There is still need to strengthen the legal and policy frameworks to address the incidence of violence against women and girls especially rape and domestic violence through speedy, effective and fair trials and discouraging impunity of those who perpetrate and compromise these violent acts,” Min. Cassell declared.

She recommended that in order to create an enabling environment where women and girls can live healthy lives, free from all forms of violence, there is a need to demand not just good intentions, but well – coordinated and funded strategies by the Government, civil society, communities and international bodies adding ‘There is a need to move away from talk and take action’.

Min.Cassell at the same time extended thanks and appreciation to all partners who have joined hands in the fight against Gender Based Violence to bring relief to women and children.

“We also appreciate our health workers and local and foreign partners who are working tirelessly to ensure that in the next few months Liberia will be an Ebola free nation. We encourage all of you to continue this fight until every Liberian is free from violence and are able to access quality health care service delivery.”

In conformity with this year’s observance of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection also assures the general public that the ministry will not relent in protecting women’s rights and enhancing access to quality health services, said Min. Cassell.

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