Liberia-December 30, 2023: The Foundation for Community Initiative (FCI) in collaboration with the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization (WPWHDO), Her Voice Liberia (HVL), Women Solidarity and Girls for Change, under the ‘Enough’ Project have concluded a one-day Campaign on ending gender-based violence (GBV) in Monrovia.
The colorful event was held on Saturday, December 30, 2023, at the Tubman Boulevard Park in Congo Town. It was intended to raise awareness and discuss issues relating to gender-based violence and ways to put an end to gender-based violence against women and girls in Liberia.
The event also brought together young women and girls, boys, and men from around Monrovia to join in advocacy to end gender-based violence (GBV) in Liberia.
Beatrice Newland, Regional Coordinator for the ‘Enough’ Project, delivered the opening remarks. She disclosed that the Enough Project and Enough Campaign started in 2018 in Liberia based on the many cases of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.
Madam Newland also mentioned that in 2018, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection (MOGCSP) annual report stated that they received over two thousand, four hundred and eighteen cases, and out of the two thousand, four hundred and eighteen cases, two thousand, one hundred and five of the cases involved rape or sexual assault against women and girls.
“And most of those cases involved girls who were below eighteen years old,” she said. “So for us, this was a serious issue because it was a violation against women and girls. And according to the United Nations, ‘it was not right’; women’s and girls’ rights needed to be protected. Another thing was that, in that same year, of all the cases that were reported, only three hundred and twenty-five were sent to court. And with that, it means that all of the perpetrators—those who were committing those crimes—were going free; nothing was happening to them. It also shows that it was not all of the cases that people were reporting; it was only the few that they were able to capture. So imagine what was happening at that time. Imagine young children as young as two years old being raped in Liberia.
According to her, at the time, for OXFAM Liberia, it was a serious issue, which led them to write a project called Enough! Project to ensure that the rights of women and girls, as well as men and boys, are protected.
She added that under the project, they advocated for people to be able to report cases and for the cases to be taken to court so the perpetrators could be punished.
She further said that under the project, they are also working with men and boys to be able to advocate for gender-based violence against women and girls to come to an end.
Under this project,” she added, “we are also helping to empower women because we realize that some of the reason why women were being violated was because they depended on men for survival. Under this project, we are also advocating for women whose rights were violated. Under this project, we realize that in Liberia, in our communities, and in our society, there are something called social norms. These are not written laws, but they are things that people follow in their communities and in their society.
Also speaking, Madam Nelly S. Cooper, Executive Director of the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization (WPWHDO), stated that they are preaching the message of gender-based violence against women and girls to make sure men do not only look at women the way they used to but also look at them as partners in progress.
She also said they want to see men considering women as their partners, not slaves, and not people who they will look down on but will look upon.
“So the reason for this Enough! Project is that people shouldn’t blame the victim, especially women and girls, because most of the time women are the victims, even though men and boys are sometimes victims, but the majority of the victims of sexual gender-based violence are women and girls,” she said. “So we don’t want people to blame the victim but rather to be able to blame the perpetrator that is perpetrating violence against women and girls. When we started our advocacy in West Point, we used to like five to seven rape acts a day; that’s how it was”.
Lucinda Dilute, one of the participants in her remark, extended her appreciation to FCI and partners for gathering them at the GBV campaign celebration to share information about GBV.
She described the event as educational and said she learned a lot about gender-based violence and is taking it with her to share with her community.