The United Nations Women in partnership with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) and other United Nations entities in Liberia have launched a joint program on Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Liberia.
Officially launching the program yesterday at the Ministry of Gender, UN Women Executive Director Dr. Phimole Nlambo-Ngcuka disclosed that half a billion women in the world live with all forms of violence, adding that the issues of SGBV is on the increase and need immediate action to protect the lives of women and children in the country.
Dr. Nlambo-Ngcuka stated that women are experiencing more violence, describing it as a pandemic which creates health crises. She was also critical of the dangerous situation for women who are killed due to violence from their partners.
Sex for grades in Liberian schools is on the rampage and students are no longer focusing on getting a better education, she commented.
The UN Executive called on traditional leaders to join the fight against SGBV as the new program is meant to end SGBV in the country. “Traditional practices should not be used to exploit women and girls therefore we must put aside some cultural practices to help end SGBV in Liberia,” she told them.
In her remarks, the Minister of Gender, Julia Duncan Cassell, said that a law has been enacted which criminalizes rape as a non-bailable offense and to strengthen the Criminal Justice System, Criminal court “E” was established to handle SGBV cases.
Madam Duncan-Cassell said her Ministry has set up a SGBV- Sex Crimes Protection Unit at the Ministry of Justice to fast track the prosecution of SGBV cases. She said the Ministry has also expanded the women and children protection sections of the Liberian National Police across the country.
At the community level across the country, the Gender Ministry has increased awareness campaigns in schools, including traditional and religious institutions.
Swedish Ambassador Lena Nordstrom also stated her readiness to support the new program to make sure that SGBV is eradicated in the world. She said the Government of Sweden and she as a woman will always support initiatives to end SGBV.
In his statement on behalf of the Government of Liberia, Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh said Liberians should always take prevention seriously and should not wait until something happens first.