Children and young people have amplified their voices in dealing head-on with issues pertaining to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in Liberia.
In a loud and resounding voice at the end of a two-day National Colloquium on SGBV Prevention and response, young people attending the event, call to attention, the Government of Liberia, parents, teachers, communities, traditional and local leaderships as well as the justice system, medical practitioners, and psycho-social Counselors etc. to step up efforts aimed at combating SGBV at all levels.
"Parents, step up for your children! Teachers, step up for your children! Traditional leaders, step up for your children! Liberians step up for your children!" Mama Liberia's future depends on them,” they said.
Fully involved in the two-day deliberation, young people posed questions to Facilitators and formed working groups to propound SGBV issues that continue to pervade the Liberian Society, urging Stakeholders not to give lip service to such life- threatening acts.
At the close of the forum, eight (8) working groups reported on the categories of Challenges, Best Practices, Accountability and Recommendations.
Some of the issues put forth include; Strengthening Coordination Mechanisms; increased awareness on SGBV especially in schools across the country; Training and building skills and expertise of Women and Children Protection Units, police officers, nurses and psycho-social Counselors among others; establishment and decentralization of one-stop centers and services for survivors and victims; speedy adjudication of SGBV cases; access to essential drugs; revisit court terms in order to respond promptly to SGBV Cases; set up mobile Criminal Court E Courts to reduce cases of SGBV on the docket; ensure functionality of DNA machine to assist investigation process; setting up suggestion boxes in schools to report on SGBV; parents must desist from turning their children into bread winners; schools to have safe spaces where they can meet with peers to share concerns; Children/young people should not allow anyone to touch them inappropriately; setting up mentorship programs etc.
Violet Baffour, Deputy Resident Representative for Programme at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the agency remains committed to supporting Liberia in the fight against Sexual Gender-based Violence (SGBV).
The two -day national colloquium on SGBV prevention and response led by UNDP, was held in partnership with the government of Liberia, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) through its Spotlight Initiative Project, as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
“We will work in partnership with all national and international partners to ensure that we achieved this; we will support the government in ways to continue this national conversation, and will support this endeavors to improve the persecution of SGBVs-related crimes, harmful particles, as well as Sexual and Reproductive Health Right (SRHR),” Ms. Baffour assured.
She stressed that recommendations from the meeting, including the challenges, will strengthen the partnership with the government to ensure that SGBV issues are thoroughly addressed through the justice system.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative described the issue of SGBV as a “Heavy Conversation” that affects Liberia “and called for stronger coordination of actors, and more innovative ways of preventing and responding to SGBVs-related cases.
Ms. Baffour lauded other partners, and strong supporters of the UN family, as well as national counterparts, who according to her, join the fight to prevent SGBV. was aimed at creating awareness on the rape law, strengthening coordination, understanding of different actors to identify key drivers of support to compliance with domestic, and international human rights obligations by the national government, and other duty bearers with a specific focus on women’s and girls’ right.
The Spotlight Initiative Project funded by the European Union, was launched on June 18, 2019. It is aimed at eliminating violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
Its programs are designed to reinforce existing programs that would improve violence prevention; advocate for legislations and policies; develop institutional capacities; provide quality services; strengthen data collection and women’s rights movements for 600,000 people across five pilot counties-Montserrado, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Cape Mount and Nimba.