The Human Rights Monitor, the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, has commenced a four day seminar on Global and Domestic Violence in Gbarnga Bong County.
The seminar organized by the Human Rights Monitor of the United Methodist Church (LAC/UMC), with support from the general board of the church and society of the United Methodist Church.
Some relevant topics to be discussed during the four day event will include: violence conflict inventory, Legislative and civil procedures, redress and enforcement of existing laws on violence, the myths and truths: gender based violence and youth violence-causes and effects and responses; the role of the church, individuals, and families in forming a healthy relationships based on equity, mutuality, and faith.
Participants of the seminar were selected from human rights groups as well as church organizations, while facilitators came from Nigeria and the United States of America, including the Rev. Neal Christie, the Assistant General Secretary for Education and Leadership Formation of the General Board of the Church and Society of the UMC.
In his opening statement, the Programme Director at the Human Rights Monitor LAC/UMC, Jefferson Knight, stressed the need for every stakeholder to get involved in the fight against global and domestic violence especially the most vulnerable women and girls.
Mr. Knight said a survey conducted by his organization has established that women have suffered most as the result of domestic violence from the hands of their male counterparts, and that no concrete steps have been taken by the relevant authorities to address the situation.
The Human Rights Director named entrenched corrupt practices and a weak justice system as factors responsible for the increase in domestic violence in the country.
Commenting on the rape law, Mr. Knight maintained that despite the legislation of the law, girls as young as nine years old are sexually assaulted, yet these perpetrators remain untouched due to what he termed as a corrupt justice system.
“With all the awareness and advocacies by our organization and other human rights groups, people still followed the path of perpetrating violence against women. The justice system that is supposed to be leading the process of protecting the survivors, is indeed compromising violent cases, particularly rape,” the Human Rights Activate declared angrily.
Mr. Knight averred that people have lost confidence in the police because they see the police as the most corrupt government agency; not as the first instance of justice and institution of protecting lives and property as anticipated.
“At the Airfield Police Depot, a female police officer assigned to the women and children’s protection unit openly collected money from a perpetrator who allegedly raped a ten year old girl to bury the case, even though the police officer was apprehended, the case died down” Mr. Knight explained.
Mr. Knight has cautioned young people to see themselves as agents of change who are expected to take on the mantle of future leadership, not as the most common perpetrators of violence as considered by many people in Liberia.
The exercise is expected to close on Wednesday December 18, at the Compound Development Education Network in Gbarnga.