Liberia's Health Minister Jallah speaking at the two-day National Colloquium on SGBV Prevention and Response.

The Minister of Health has urged young women to avoid risky areas and situations that make them susceptible to rape.

Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah at a UNDP led two-day National Colloquium on SGBV Prevention and Response said, young people especially women and girls, must exercise caution in areas where they live, hang out, who they interact with and avoid situations and circumstances that are life threatening.

Dr. Jallah made a presentation on the topic "Medical Response to Victims and Survivors of SGBV, harmful Practices and access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

“Avoid parties and gatherings where alcohol and drugs are used to have you intoxicated to perpetrate the act of rape by men and sometimes influenced by your own friends,” Health Minister said.

She emphasized that medical responses are available to victims and survivors of sexual and gender based violence.

The Minister of Health informed the gathering that 72 hours is the time frame given for medical practitioners to collect evidence of abuse through medical examinations, stressing that “victims must not take a bath after an act of sexual violence is committed, but rather report immediately to a health center.

She also called on care givers to exercise patience with SGBV survivors, who are already in the state of pain and trauma in dealing with the consequences and impact of abuse when seeking medical assistance.

“Medical Practitioners are to change their attitude when attending to victims of sexual violence. It is intolerable to further subject a victim to additional trauma and stigma when they need your help” Dr. Jallah emphasized.

The Liberian Health Minister propounded the need for collective and coordinated efforts in dealing with SGBV Issues.

“All of us have a role to play in stamping out this menace-you, you and you have a responsibility to take actions necessary to deal with this threat that continues to permeate our society. We can no longer fold our hands and do nothing,” Dr. Jallah stressed.

Ms. Caroline Bowah of Medica Liberia who presented on Pscho-social Counseling and Case management, intimated that a victim/survivor will need help in this area, as a way of gradually overcoming the trauma inflicted as a result of sexual violence.

The two-day Colloquium provides a space for information sharing of best practices and lessons learnt on prosecution of SGBV Crimes, harmful practices and access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights for women and girls, from Experts in the field.

Held under the theme “Promoting Coordination to enhance Prosecution of SGBV Crimes and Harmful Practices and Promoting Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, the event has brought together over 250 people from all sectors of the country.

This is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) led activity under the Spotlight Initiatives, jointly implemented by the Government of Liberia and the United Nations with funding from the European Union in Liberia.

EU/UN Spotlight Initiative is a multi-national partnership designed to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

It also endeavors to increase access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services and is being implemented in the five most-affected counties-Lofa, Nimba, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Montserrado.,

Under the Spotlight Initiative, UNDP is entrusted to ensure the strengthening of institutions and the delivery of quality and essential services in the prevention and the responses to SGBV and harmful practices at the national, sub-national and community levels.

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