The president of Journalists against Sexual, Gender Based Violence, Lawrence M. Fahnbulleh, has said that rape remains a threat to gender equality, women’s empowerment, peace and security of Liberia.
At a workshop held yesterday at the Ministry of Gender in Monrovia, Mr. Fahnbulleh explained that gender based violence is not only widespread in Liberia but also in all societies.
“Stigma and a continuing reliance on solving issues with communities have all contributed to low reporting, and the resultant inadequate provision of care for survivors, or action against perpetrators,” he said.
Mr. Fahnbulleh further explained that the GBV does not only lead to physical and mental trauma, but it often carries long-term social consequences for survivors.
“Around 15 percent rate of divorce occurs and 25.8 percent of wives are abandoned,” he said.
According to him, the collective advocacy by the media and partners have contributed to the Government of Liberia and partners working to establish preventive and response system for rape and other gender based violent cases.
“In 2014, 1,394 GBV cases were recorded of which 74 were rape with the number of reported cases lower than previous years of 2012 that reported 2,493 cases,” he said.
The decrease in the reported cases in 2014 was largely due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, he noted, adding that rape is unfortunately accepted as part of gender relations.
“This perception was made worse during the civil crisis, as SGBV was used repeatedly as a weapon of war against many Liberian women and girls, with the terrible violence they experienced up to now with them.
“Child rape is the most prevalent form in Liberia and sometimes results in death,” he disclosed.
Mr. Fahnbulleh explained that it is worth noting that these numbers do not represent the actual picture as entrenched cultural norms and community and family pressures prevent many cases from being reported.
Major challenges in the fight against GBV, he said includes compromise of cases, refusal by parents or guardians to report cases, traditional justice system, and limited number of trained magistrates.
According to him, effective mechanism to control rape includes the establishment of Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes Unit, Women and Children Protection Section, Criminal Court “E”, Mobile In Camera Trial Screen and the Gender Based Violence Unit of MOGSCP.
He recommended that there must be a national conference, the objective of which is to review concerns, identify the gaps and challenges and dialogue with the community and identify solutions.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is violence against a person on the basis of gender. It constitutes a breach of the fundamental rights to life, liberty, security, and dignity (self respect), equality (fairness) between women and men, non-discrimination and physical and mental integrity.