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Just A Girl Initiatives Wants Fight Against GBV: Go Beyond Speeches and Occasions

Today, we join countries around the world to amplify our voices in our calls to put an end to Violence against women and girls in Liberia in observance of another 16 days of activism. The lives of girls and women mean a lot for Liberia’s advancement and development, and as such violence against them is counterproductive. 

There is no best time than now for the Liberian government, families, communities, and religious groups to fully get involved in combating this menace that has become a pandemic. Moving beyond speeches the signing of papers and making excellent speeches and “Walking the Talks” to end violence against women and girls is what we need to bring about the change that enables girls and women to live productively. 

The 16 days of Activism is a global annual or international campaign that is meant to amplify the voices and efforts of people, institutions, and organizations to raise awareness for the elimination of violence against women and girls around the world. The 16 days run from November 25 of each year to December 10, 2021. The global theme for this year’s 16 days of activism is “Orange the world: end violence against women now!

In-country, we recognize some of the strides being made in passing some legislations meant to protect girls and women against GBV (Gender Based Violence) and protection which includes the rape law, the recently passed domestic violence law, the women inheritance right, and the signing of several international human rights instruments some of which are also yet to be domesticated. 

However, there’s still a lot more to be done in ensuring the full protection of girls and women. Violence against girls and women is still pervasive. 

Liberia ranks 177th out of 188 countries in the Gender Inequality Index. This means that four in every 10 Liberians believe that women are too soft to be good leaders. According to a survey conducted by the World Bank, two out of 10 Liberians endorse domestic violence against women and children, and one out of 10 endorses sexual violence, including rape. Some of these trends find roots in cultural practices and beliefs defended or normalized by both men and women, and hence strongly linked to contextual gender norms.  

Harmful traditional practices, particularly Female Genital Mutilation continue to affect the lives of hundreds of Liberian girls and women. The national Legislature dashed the hopes of Liberian girls and women when it passed the New Domestic Violence Law completely removing the FGM component. This means Liberia is yet to criminalize the practice of FGM. About 44.4 percent of Liberian girls and women have been subjected to FGM cutting (circumcision). 

 As we begin this year’s observance of the 16 Days of activism, Just A Girl Initiatives takes this moment to remember girls and women who have been subjected and made to live their lives in pains and agonies sustained as a result of gender-based and other forms of violence.  

Below are some of the accounts of some violence against some Liberian girls and women we have been able to track recorded, broadcast, or published by various media and individuals across the country. 

1. Man uses Super Glue on Girlfriend private part for not giving him sex Read Here

2.    Mothers Demand Release of Daughters From Sande Bush 

3. Maryland County Police Detachment Commander Jacob Comehn under Investigation for Mercilessly Beating a Female Officer

4. Female Officer of the Liberia Immigration Service Killed in Her Residence; Left Lying in Pool of Blood

5. Police Officer on the Run of after Allegedly Raping 15-Year-Old Girl

6. Police Officer Disrobed, After Claim He Raped And Impregnated Girl, 15

7. Fugitive Police Officer Arrested, Charged in Rape of 13-year Old

8. Liberia: Man Allegedly Kills Girlfriend with Acid

9.    Liberia: Man, 40yrs Allegedly Pours Acid on Girlfriend, Three Others in Margibi County 

The continuous incidents of these and various forms of violence against Liberian girls and women remain unabated. This has drawn the attention of the eight foreign diplomatic missions including ECOWAS in Liberia.  

The Eight Foreign Missions have issued a joint statement in Monrovia, urging the Government of Liberia to fulfill commitments made to scale up a survivor-centered, comprehensive response to gender-based violence, including prevention, psychosocial support, medical assistance, access to justice and rehabilitation programs for perpetrators.

The statement was issued by, the Embassies of France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, ECOWAS Commission, and the Delegation of the European Union.

 The various diplomatic missions on November 23, 2021 call on the Liberia government to strengthen and enforce existing laws such as the rape law and the domestic violence act, including the provision of resources for awareness about the laws.

They are want the government to permanently ban the practice of female genital mutilation which causes physical as well as psychological pain and irreparable damage; support appointment of suitably qualified women to local government leadership positions to address the current gender imbalance and to increase female participation and representation at all levels.

At the same time, the missions also call on  the Liberian government increase  efforts to increase women’s political participation so that the legislature better reflects the population of the country; expand the provision of legal aid, especially for the most underserved and disadvantaged groups of women and girls as part of their ‘leave no one behind’ imperative.

They, therefore, called for immediate action to address the current backlog in GBV cases under police investigation, ensure access to a speedy trial for persons accused of GBV crimes and enhance capacities for forensic investigations as well as improve data collection to enhance the collective understanding of the demographics of the problem, to identify and understand social norms and behaviors. 

For us at Just A Girl, the calls and recommendations from these foreign missions just in affirmation of our many calls.

As observance this year’s 16, we want to thank the Vice President of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard for accepting to provide educational support to the 5 girls who were abducted in Mt. Barclay and initiated into the Sande where they were subjected to Female Genital Mutilation.

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