Africa-Press – Liberia. Sexual Gender -Based Violence against women and girls is increasing at a disturbing level as the culture of impunity threatens progress achieved on gender equality and ending violence against women and girls.
Many Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are working with county authorities, community leaders, women, and girls on Sexual and Gender -Based Violence (SGBV) Prevention and Response in communities throughout Liberia.
As such, we frequently are faced with an alarming number of incidences of rape and other GBV cases. Most times, when these cases are reported, the survivors’ right to health services and justice is hindered.
Rather than law enforcement, courts and other government entities; family members, communities and CSOs have had to bear most costs associated with accessing the SGBV referral pathway.
They transport survivors to safe homes, provide transportation and communication for follow-up with the police and court hearings, and provide payment for legal fees, medication, feeding, toiletries, etc. because of the limited funds and resources provided to duty bearers.
The SGBV Survivor Support Coalition, comprising of organizations and individuals working on SGBV issues in Liberia, was organized in May 2021 to: Provide coordinated support and services for SGBV survivors, and Advocate for effective policies and funding for SGBV survivors
Though we have committed ourselves fully to providing whatever support we can to survivors, we know that this is not adequate; nor is it sustainable. The due diligence standard for violence against women (VAW)outlined in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) in Article 4(c), urges countries to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with national legislation, punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private persons.”
The fight against SGBV is a top priority in Liberia. On September 11, 2020, H.E. President George M. Weah declares Rape as a National Emergency, vowing to improve support for rape survivors and strengthen the country’s prosecution system, and ordered new measures to tackle the problem after a recent spike of cases. President George M. Weah said, “Liberia is witnessing what isan epidemic of rape within the pandemic, affecting mostly children and young girls across the country.”
RAPE is a NATIONAL EMERGENCY. A national emergency is a national crisis or a situation where circumstances threaten the country and call for an immediate response. As such, the emergency response should attempt to contain, control, or end the emergency. Emergency response is the phase that often attracts the most attention and resources.
Therefore, the SGBV Survivor Support Coalition has launched a Nationwide Survivor Support Campaign, “STAND WITH SURVIVORS, calling for tangible and urgent actions for survivor’s support. We continue to engage national stakeholders on how we can:
The SGBV Survivor Support Coalition also thanks the European Union for funding through the ENOUGH project supported by Oxfam Liberia and Foundation for Community Initiatives through its implementing partner, Helping Our People Excel, Inc.
We encourage CSOs, SGBV survivors- and other vulnerable groups, to raise their voices during the 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, and the nationwide Survivor Support Campaign as we urge the Government of Liberia, its partners, and its citizens to ”STAND WITH SURVIVORS”.