-One out of 3 girls experience rape, SGBV
Mrs. Faith Akovi Cooper, International Rescue Committee (IRC) Country Director, said it is discouraging to note that, in Liberia, one of every three girls on average between ages 8 and 15 has experienced rape, and other forms of Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV).
Mrs. Cooper made the statement recently, when she spoke at a one-day SGBV Prevention and Response Learning conference held under the theme, “Enhancing Coordination and Promoting Sustainability.” The program was held in collaboration with Irish AID.
The event brought together over 60 participants from UN Women, Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Health, IRC, women Group and representatives of civil society organizations.
Mrs. Cooper said on the average, across the five of the one-stop centers, IRC have provided support to over 4,000 cases. She said the total cases in 2017 was 1,344 and nearly doubled to 2,246 in 2018, and between December, 2018 to March, 2019, the entity has already supported closed to 1,032 survivors.
“The figure is troubling, and if you are sitting in the audience, and not bothered by the report, there is a problem, because the reality is that, we must all do more to turn the tides on violence against women and girls,” Mrs. Cooper said.
She added, “as long as we do not prioritize the root cause(s) of violence against women and girls, it will be difficult to turn the tides in the country.”
She said the government arm of SGBV needs to reinforce laws in creating safe communities for all, because it is a clear human rights issue that will require the government to put mechanisms into place to ensure that women and girls are safe.
Mrs. Cooper told frontline fighters of rape and SGBV cases that though there are challenges collectively, they can achieve their goals in reducing reported incidents of SGBV by strengthening prevention and response systems across the country.
She said the IRC, in collaboration with partners, have implemented critical programming focused on women’s and children’s protection and empowerment with particular emphasis on SGBV prevention, response and advocacy.
“These preventions, responses, and advocacy activities are diverse, and include leadership, life skills development, male endangerment, activism, and wraparound service delivery,” she said.
Elena Gomme, Ireland Embassy Program Advisor in Liberia, said ending violence against women and girls is the major goal of her country.
Gomme said there is a need for more awareness about the danger, and engage public office to ensure the implementation of the laws against SGBV and rape.
She said it is the effort of IRC that rape survivors can get medical attention and other consoling mechanisms to enable them live peacefully in the community.
Mrs. Alice Johnson Howard, Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said it is disappointing to still have rape and SGBV cases on the increase in the country after all the conferences, dialogue, and community engagements have discussed the effects of such violations.
She said it is time for frontline fighters to redouble their fight to stop the cruel act against women and girls to build a safe society for all.
Mrs. Johnson Howard said with the troubling results of rape and SGBV, it is time for women groups to stand tall in their advocacy to ensure that those laws that on the book to protect women and girls be implemented.
IRC-Liberia focuses on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through ending violence and expanding opportunity for those who face staggeringly high rates of violence.
According to the entity, a recent study from Nimba County alone highlighted that by age thirteen, 16 percent of girls reported being raped, while 25 percent of girls reported experiencing attempted rape.
IRC believes that the although the country has been at peace for 15 years, women and girls are living in the midst of social crisis.
IRC-Liberia has over 17 years of experience implementing projects to protect and empower women and girls; working to eliminate and respond to the effects and gender-based violence and support policy development that promote women’s equality.
It directly addresses the high rates of sexual and gender-based violence experienced by women and girls, and also seeks to prevent it.