Violet Baffour, Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said that the agency remains committed to supporting Liberia in the fight against Sexual Gender-based Violence (SGBV).
“We will work in partnership with all national and international partners to ensure that we achieved this; we will support the government in ways to continue this national conversation, and will support this endeavors to improve the persecution of SGBVs-related crimes, harmful particles, as well as Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR),” Ms. Baffour assured.
She made the commitment at the end of a two-day National Colloquium on Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) prevention and response in Monrovia. The two days occasion was held in partnership with the government of Liberia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) through its spotlight initiative, as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
The event, which was held under the theme, “Promoting Coordination to Enhance Prosecution of SGBV Crimes, Harmful Practices, and Promoting Access to Sexual Reproduction and Health Rights (SRHRs),” began on Monday, November 4, and ended on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at the Monrovia City Hall. It brought together delegates from Montserrado, and other parts of the country. It aimed was to provide space for experts in the field.
It was also aimed at creating awareness on the rape law, strengthen coordination, understanding of different actors to identify key drivers of support to compliance with domestic, and international human rights obligations by the national government, and other duty bearers with a specific focus on women’s and girls’ right.
Ms. Baffour told participants that the key recommendations from the meeting, including the challenges being presented to them will work in partnership with the government to ensure that these issues are addressed through the (laws) justice system.
“It is a heavy conversation that affects Liberia and beyond,” she said.
Ms. Baffour lauded other partners, and strong supporters of the UN family, as well as our national counterparts, who according to her join the fight to prevent SGBV.
“I recognized the efforts that have been made by our national partners to comply with the national and international laws and obligations, particularly with the focus on women and girls,” something which she called for stronger coordination of actors, and more innovative ways of preventing and responding to SGBVs-related cases.
“I am glad that we have the Ministry of Gender and the Ministry of Justice is here, “the cases must be prosecuted faster and more efficiently than they are being prosecuted now.”
“How can we do that, maybe longer court terms in one of the recommendations that are outlined in these discussions today are solid ones that we must now take forward to see how we can improve on it to ensure that we do justice to Liberian youth,” She added.
She, however, noted the role of the parents, teachers CSOs, the media and the government as essential to protecting Liberian girls and boys. “It is essential, but if we don’t do it means we failed the youths, and failed Liberia’s future as well,” she said.
She said SGBV affects Liberia’s development, because the girls and boys that are raped would be the country’s future leaders.
“All Liberians are collectively responsible to ensure that all boys and girls grow up in an environment that woud defend their potentials,” she added.
EU Head of Cooperation, Theodorus Kaspers, who spoke of the importance of fighting SGBV, added: “We join other high level representatives to reiterate our commitment to tackling the remaining challenges in the fight against SGBVs.
Amaning said that apart from the spotlight initiative’s achievement in providing an enabling environment, he described the passage of the domestic violence law as a powerful tool to increase the fight against sexual violence.
“We have for the past months seen some level of progressive actions taken so far by demonstrating local commitment to act on Gender-based discrimination and violence,” he said.
Gender Minister, Williametta E. Saydee Tarr, said it is now time that everyone starts prioritizing the rights, the needs and the wishes of survivors, as well as ensure that they have access to appropriate, and accessible and good quality services, including healthcare, support security, and other legal services.
Minister Tarr: “It is about time that we all galvanize our efforts to tackle all of the circumstances surrounding survivors limited access to healthcare and services.”
She said over the years, SGBV has become prevalent, affecting the country’s larger population, mostly women, girls and children, who are considered the most vulnerable.
She then thanked the partners for the initiatives, and pledged the ministry’s commitment to ensuring that the issues of SGBV are tackled and put to rest.
It can be recalled that on June 18, 2019, the government, the UN, EU, religious and traditional leaders and civil society organizations, launched the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices.
It is a four-year initiative and a €16 million investment to reinforce existing programs that would improve violence prevention, advocate for legislation and policies, develop institutional capacity, provide quality services, strengthen data collection and strengthen women’s rights movements for 600,000 people across five counties.