IDAD X-rays Harmful Effects of SGBV; As Panelists Crave For More Education and Awareness

 As women, children, and girls, particularly, have been sadly affected by Sexual Gender Based Violence in country, coupled by rape being declared National Emergency by President George M. Weah, the Institute for Democratic Action and Development, (IDAD), has leafed through the book, by x-raying the harmful effects of Sexual Gender-Based Violence, and its harmful effects on women, children, and girls. IDAD organized a one SGBV Forum in Monrovia, Wednesday, September 30, 2020, at the Icampus, on Carey Street in Monrovia.

The Theme of the SGBV was “Combating Sexual Gender Based Violence in its Entirety.” The Forum featured Legal and Gender Experts who provided their professional knowledge aimed at combating Rape and other forms of domestic violence in the country.

 The objectives of the dialogue were to ensure that rape and other forms of violence are minimized, women’s and girl’s rights are protected, advocate for more social and gender protection for women and girls, create an awareness for a gender-friendly environment that encourages mutual respect for women and girls.

Topics that were presented by the Panelists included: Gender Equality/ Mainstreaming; What are the Challenges, Prospects for Development?, Domestic Violence, and Its Effects on Women and Girls. The SGBV Forum also brought together closed 50 participants from the civil society, gender, social, and youth communities.

These participants provided the best recommendations, comments, and suggestions that would be used to shift the paradigm and give women renewed hope to live without fear, intimidation, and harassment. Serving as one of the Panelists during the SGBV Forum, the President of the Female Lawyers Association of Liberia, Atty. Vivian Neal urged participants to increase awareness on the harmful effects of rape by educating community dwellers about SGBV. Atty. Neal stressed that much education and engagement with residents are essential in the fight against SGBV in Liberia.

She lamented the huge rise of rape in the country and mentioned that sustained and frantic efforts are needed to curtail such menace in the Liberian Society 

Atty. Neal described rape, when a person has intercourse – if he or she penetrates the virginal, or mouth or any opening of another person. The President of the Female Lawyer Association of Liberia mentioned that rape is a penetration, and it rape occurs when he or she penetrates any opening of the body.

  The Legal Expert noted that castration is any form of rape, and during the war people used gun to have sex with women and girls. Atty. Neal noted that foreign objects were also used. She pointed out that they have worked to include foreign objects, bottle, and sticks, in the Penal Law of Liberia, and when a lady uses foreign object, it is still considered as rape.

Atty. Neal Named lack of consent, penetration, slight penetration, force, treats and intimidations as elements of rape in the country.  She urged the participants to be agents of change, speak out, and educate people in their various communities, because the government does not know what is happening

Speaking about the contributing factors of Rape during the SGBV forum, the President of the Female Lawyers Association of Liberia noted that mental state is a serious factor, because most men used to sleeping with underage girl, which becomes normal practices for them.

 She indicated that as a result of COVID 19, Partners stayed home longer thereby engaging into sexual activities. She pointed out that most men want more sex. Atty. Neal said that the lack of parental care drug, alcohol are factors responsible for rape in Liberia.  

She called on the participants to work with their donors to carry out awareness programs in the various communities.

Also presenting on the topic Gender Equality/ Mainstreaming, Challenges, Prospects for Development, Madam Lovettee Sieh, Gender Advocate at the Division of Gender, Based Violence at the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Society Protection, Madam Lovettee Sieh, mentioned that gender equality is an ascribed role that is given to both males and females in society.

  Madam Sieh stressed that there should be equal rights to all or equal access to rights for all. The Gender Advocate mentioned that fairness in decision making, and not taking sides are the key elements of Gender Equality. She urged the Panelists to be fair, and carryout activities on a merit-based. She noted that women are now playing key roles in society, and competing with their male counterparts constructively.

Madam Sieh indicated that any form of aggressive violence in the home is considered as Gender Based Violence. She maintained that there should be tolerance, and women should be given the rights to be freed from sexual violence in Liberia, and their wellbeing should be prioritized. She admonished them from seeing women as sexual instruments, and men should desist from physical and social violence against women in their various homes.