By: Jerromie S. Walters
Brewerville, Montserrado County: A local women group under the banner Network for Young Women and Girls Transformative Leadership (NYWGiT Leaders) is calling on the Government of Liberia to ensure effective actions to end violence against women and girls.
The local group’s call is part of the climax of activities marking the 16Days of Activism.
NYWGiT President Alexandra T. Bonarb urged the Government to act effectively, through a physical approach, in regards to the persistent rising trends of violence against women and girls in Liberia.
“We re-echo our request to the Government to leap from Discourse of Intentions to Policy of Actions to Stop Violence against Women and Girls in Liberia”, She spoke today at the Brewerville, District 17, Montserrado County.
As part of their call, the group indicated the need for budget-supported actions in addressing SGBbV related issues as well as stronger policies and measures.
NYWGiT noted that govt needs to do more in ensuring justice again countless unorthodox issues through different forms and manners against women and girls.
“Many other variations of violence against women remain under the radar in a Liberian context of rigid social norms, victim-blaming, and bullying, compromise of cases by communities and families, as well as delayed administration of justice which often results in denial of justice to some victims who pursue a judicial remedy, Alexandra professed.
The Network for Young Women and Girls Transformative Leadership (NYWGiT Leaders) also expressed regret over what they termed as delay in the operationalization of the DNA machine, and the Government reported failure to ensure the appointment of the promised Special Prosecutor for rape, the setting up of a National Sex Offender Registry seems far-fetched; as well as the establishment of a National Security Taskforce.
Commenting on the efficiency of government in regards to the implementation of the different instruments signed in fighting issues against SGBV in Liberia, NYWGiT argued that the actualization of those instruments is yet to be seen.
“Implementation of many instruments, especially functional structure like the “Government and Partners Roadmap to Ending Rape and SGBV” which was produced during the National Anti-Rape & SGBV Conference on September 8 to 9, 2020 after a peaceful protest was carried out prior to the conference is yet to be seen”. She expanded.
Providing statistics gathered through its research, Alexandra T. Bonarb disclosed that “Telling statistics of the Bureau of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice revealed that between January and July 2020, there were a total of 450 incidents of statutory rape, 100 cases of rape, 55 cases of gang-related rape and 10 cases involving sodomy, mainly affecting young women and girls”.
Additionally, NYWGiT President narrated that, “a total of 575 cases of Rape and domestic case have happened in the 15 counties of Liberia. A new “variant” of gender-based, cyber violence, a new phenomenon that is spreading fast is affecting women in political life, in the media, business and other fields, including across all social strata of the Liberian society. This situation has resulted in deterring women and girls from expressing political opinions and from participating in other cyberspaces”.
However, NYWGiT argued that “though addressing sexual gender-based violence against women and girls seems to be a tall order, it is not difficult to tackle head-on this situation if the political will power of the Liberian Government is exerted to fix the system and public resources deliberately invested in implementing laws, national programs, and action plans”.
Alexandra T. Bonarb in her deliberation further emphasized that Government effectiveness in tackling SGBV related issues will deliver a peaceful, secured, and conducive living atmosphere for women and girls throughout Liberia.
“Closing these gaps will ultimately bring about greater peace and security in the shattered lives of abused young women and girls and it will create a safety net for those who are at risk of being abused@, she intruded.
While addressing the indoor ceremony, Miss. Chichi Joy Onus said survivors of sexual violence are not to be held reliable for their tragedy, as such they are not to be stigmatized as often seen in numerous rape cases.
Referencing identity, background, and society as arguable reasons why rape victims are not to be held responsible for violence against them, Miss Onus stressed that the appearance of a lady through her dress code shouldn’t be a reason to have them raped, neither should her desire to seek accommodation because of her family inability to attend to her need, nor her presence in what one may consider as a terrible society.
The Network for Young Women and Girls Transformative Leadership (NYWGiT Leaders) was established by Sister AID Liberia (SALI) and comprises 225 emerging young women leaders, ages ranging from 16 to 35 years, across Liberia.
As a part of their commitment during the 16 days of Activism under the global theme: “Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now”, NYWGiT held its own program under the theme: “The Assault is not her Fault”.
The group seeks to increase the saliency of the SGBV situation and bring to the fore of the national Government’s agenda this endemic problem that continues to wrack the lives of young women and girls in Liberia.