Sen. Lawrence Tackles Rape, SGBV in Grand Bassa County

 Some of the graduates of the Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence National Youth Mentoring program.

— 100 youth trained to fight the menace

Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence seems to have an ambitious goal to reduce the rate of rape and other sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) issues affecting her county.

Recently, she worked with her citizens to recruit and train close to 100 young men and women to champion the fight against rape and other forms of SGBV.

Liberia still appears to have one of the most stringent rape laws in the world, with rape being a non-bailable crime in the country. Prison sentences, ranging from pretrial detention to the actual guilty verdict, are usually long enough to warn others who would think of rape. 

Yet, implementation of the rape law is often upstaged by comprises between families of rape victims and perpetrators. In other cases, evidence of rape is tampered with and law enforcement has often complained of limited or no resources to investigate SGBV crimes. 

As the national government and partners deliberate and employ measures to save particularly women from rape and other kinds of sexual and gender-based violence, Senator Lawrence is strongly against the menace.

Over the weekend, the “Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence National Youth Mentoring” program graduated one hundred young girls, women, and men to get actively engaged on rape issues.

The keynote speaker, Princess Gardour, a 21-year-old lady, was one of the trainees who benefited from the program.

Garder said there is no excuse — no matter what — for anyone to rape another person.

With emphasis placed on girls and women, who are the main victims almost all of the time, the zealous and energetic and prospective high school graduate said sex is for adults and it should be done between partners based on agreement, rather than force or harassment.

“Rape is a destiny destroyer. It destroys the future. Do not compromise rape. Involve the police and allow the rule of law to take its due course, as efforts are geared towards ending rape. Rape is never a mistake and no one has any excuse to say the victim was at fault for whatsoever,” Gardour said.

She noted that Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse should be fought against in the country because ignoring a case today might develop into a national “catastrophe.”

The young female noted that rape kills humanity and to bring an end to it, decent men must rise to the occasion and protect their sisters, mothers, and other vulnerable women.

Discussing the types of rape, including forceful marital sex, statutory rape, as well as incest or rape, carried out by a family member or a relative against his fellow family member or relative, Gardour said it is about time men, in particular, develop the self-control and decent minds towards the opposite sex.

“The dress code of a girl or woman should not be a justification for raping them. Men have self-control and protect women. No means no. My dress code is not an invitation,” she said, admonishing fellow women to also be cautious and unprovocative.

Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine, in her remarks, said the best thing to do is to prevent rape rather than look for legal remedies after it has occurred.

“The Police or the courts are there but, before you get to them, someone has already been raped. Sometimes rape occurs in a place where someone knows that it is occurring, but fears or some other reasons prevent the person from ensuring that that girl or a woman does not become a victim of rape. Let’s work together and prevent it,” Cllr. Brumskine said.

She admonished the mentorship graduates to be ambassadors of the change they want to see or be.  

“You are very blessed to have the senator one of Liberia’s greatest females watch how mentors live their life and emulate them. You too can become great,” she noted.

She made emphasis on the need to educate young men and boys on the need to respect women and consider them not as properties but as fellow human beings.

Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine is the daughter of the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, founder and standard bearer of Liberty Party. He died after a protracted illness in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Grand Bassa County Senator has disclosed that as a leader she sees it fit to get involved in helping young people learn about how to help themselves and society fight sexual and gender-based violence.

“We hear about rape, we have advocated. Everyone has spoken. Social media and radio stations, as well as many other people, have played their respective roles in creating awareness. This country has the most stringent law on rape in the world, but how to implement it, probably is an issue of concern,” Lawrence added.

She disclosed that the idea of creating a platform to engage young people was established in 2020 when she launched her second Senatorial race campaign in Grand Bassa County.

She expressed grave concern about the generation after her and, because of this realization, she has vowed to do all she can to make a national impact on the lives of young people.

“We will launch the mentoring program here and go out to all the remaining fourteen of our fifteen Counties but, for now, we have thought that Grand Bassa should be a starting point,” She said.

She continued by saying that the launch of the program in Grand Bassa came following a meeting with stakeholders, including the Ministries of Justice, as well as Gender, Children, and Social Protection, among others.

She disclosed that 100 boys and young men will be recruited from schools as it was done with the females and will be trained to help create awareness of the need to prevent rape.

Oneta Roberts, Director of the Children’s Protection Unit at the Ministry of Justice, as well as a representative from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, mentored the hundred young women and girls.

The graduates dramatized the need to protect girls from being exposed to sexual harassment and debated whether or not rape should be bailable.

Meanwhile, nine Senators, including Conmany Wesseh, Wellington Geevon Smith, Daniel Naatehn, Gbleh-Bo Browne and Prince Moye, Nemene Bartekwa, Steve Zargo, and  Simeon Taylor, also graced the occasion.