As the celebration of the 16days of Activism commences in Monrovia and globally, actions are being taken to eliminate violence against women, girls and vulnerable groups around the world.
The celebration under the local theme “End Gender-based Violence in Work Places, Schools and Communities” signifies efforts that must be instituted locally and globally by governments and communities to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls.
Recently at the celebration marking the launch of the 16days of Activism, Senate Chair on Gender, Sen. Peter Coleman assured Liberian women of the passage of the Domestic Violence Act, which has been lingering at the Senate for over 3years.
The Domestic Violence bill was introduced at the Senate on September 8, 2015 and first read on September 22, 2015, further sent the committees on Gender Equity, Child Development and Social Welfare including the Judiciary committee focuses on the protection of women’s rights with efforts to ensure an end to violence against women and girls.
Sen. Coleman indicated that there is also a need to strengthen the rape law to enable tougher penalties for perpetrators whose victim died due to the crime.
“As a doctor, I have performed multiple operations on little girls who were raped, some of those girls died because of the rape and this I believe is dangerous so we need to strengthen the law to increase the sentences in cases where victims of rape die”.
He noted that the passage of the domestic violence bill will ensure proper protection of women and girls from violence, abuses and other forms sexual abuses which hamper women and girls growth in society.
Accordingly, at the program, a representative of the women of Liberia, Madam Roseline Toweh urged the government of Liberia to ensure the prioritization of women’s empowerment as a means of lifting women from forms of abuses and ensuring their space for societal, political affiliations in future.
Madam Toweh emphasized that the low representation of women in the parliament must be taken seriously with the need to build women’s capacity throughout the country.
“I believe Gender budgeting will help women achieve their goals through empowerment in this government in eliminating Sexual and Gender Based violence so we are asking the president to prioritize more budget for the Ministry of Gender to ensure that more women are empowered and are made to contribute to the development of the country”. She said.
Launching the 16days of activism at the ATS, Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah reechoed calls for a sustained fight against sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms.
Pres. Weah said that there is a need for the women of Liberia to stand up for their rights and further resist all forms of violence against them noting that the government along with partners must also fight collectively in ensuring that women are free of SGBV.
“Child abuse, rape and trafficking among others are all sad manifestations of gender-based violence in the country and these must be fought with determination in a collective way; we must stand up to fight this shameful menace and create a safe and enabling environment for women and girls in our country.”
He indicated that the government of Liberia remains fully committed to ensuring the protection of women’s rights which he said is captured under the government’s pro-poor agenda for Development and Prosperity (PADP).
Yearly from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
On July 18, 2017, the Liberian Senate concurred with the Lower House to pass the Domestic Violence Act with the deletion of its FGM component.
Several local groups focusing on ending FGM in Liberia spoke strongly against the Senate action on the matter. The groups indicated that considering commitments made under the leadership of President Sirleaf as an advocate for human and women rights in Liberia and to the international community about ending FGM in Liberia, there is a need for her to ensure that the component is part of the act.
During the Senate deliberation, Sen. Peter Coleman is quoted as saying that the issue of female genital mutilation is a tradition, should not be refined.
Accordingly, Article 5b of the Liberia Constitution focuses on the need to preserve, protect and promote positive Liberian culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian society.
A 2015 UN report on Liberia shows that 39% of women experience lifetime physical or sexual intimate partner violence why child marriage accounts for 36% and Female Genital Mutilation points to 50%.
Liberia s a signatory to several international protocols, conventions, and treaties are under obligation to provide for the protection and end all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women, the Maputu Protocol and UN Convention of the Protection of Children are keen among several international instruments.