November 25, 2021 marked the day when Liberia joined the World to observe the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. The Days run up to December 10, 2021.
It is however concerning despite concerted efforts made through the European Union, United Nations and Government of Liberia Spotlight Initiative, and the sexual and gender based violence program previously funded by the Embassy of Sweden, violent cases against women, girls and children continue to skyrocket.
According to Gender Ministry’s statistics, reported cases of gender-based violence in 2020 alarmingly stood at more than 2240.
We can’t agree more with Mr. Niels Scott, United Nations’ Resident Coordinator to Liberia, when he said there is a need for us to collectively and individually contribute to ending gender-based violence and bring the number of cases down.
Indeed there is a need to strengthen primary prevention efforts and redefine power relations that have often put women and girls in a vulnerable situation at family, community, and institutional levels.
We need to be more practical in our approaches than delivering beautiful speeches, if we will ever measure up to this year’s theme: “Orange the World: End violence against women now!” and the national theme, “Enough is enough! Let’s act now to end violence against women, girls, children and other marginalized groups.”
Like the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Urban Sjöström, said, the government must fulfill all commitments made including scaling up survivor centers, comprehensive response to gender-based violence that includes prevention, psychosocial support for survivors, medical assistance, access to justice and rehabilitation programs for survivors, among other things.
With the continue rise in reported cases of the gender based violence in spite of various efforts in Liberia, revisiting the national strategy is highly recommended.
One of such ways to go is to initiate a revision process of the Ministry of Gender’s apppraches to direct more effort at prevention of violence, prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women, girls and other vulnerable groups and continue with more engagement in rural or slum communities where those violent cases usually take place.
We hope that before the next 16 days of Activism in 2022 Liberia will take further necessary steps to drastically reduce the reported number cases, for the reported 2240 cases of gender-based violence is concerning.