Several Gender Based Violence (GBV) campaigners, predominately women, have made a commitment to continue the fight by making sure that the Liberian society is free of GBV.
Speaking when she officially launched the 16 Days of Activism, the Executive Director of HOPE, Madam Keturah York Cooper, called on Liberians, especially women, to hold together in the strive to end violence against women and children.
But before she performed the launch recently at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, Madam Cooper cited the following 'GBV Pledge' which was repeated after her by other GBV campaigners.
Madam Cooper: “I pledge to spread the word that violence against children must stop; I pledge that I will never engage in any act or support any act of violence against women and children; I pledge never to turn a blind eye ignore someone who is being beaten and abused in my community; I promise to never be silent to the cry of a victim of gender based violence; I promise to protect those who are victims and stop protecting those who are the perpetrators; I promise to hold my government accountable for programs that will protect her citizens; and I promise to challenge all structures that allow gender based violence to continue, whether in my church, mosque, school, office or any institution.”
The official launch of the 16 Days of Activism comes in the wake of widespread GBV occurrences in Liberia. According to statistics from the Ministry of Gender and Development, 236 persons, mostly adolescence girls between age 13-17, were physically and sexually abused. The abuses occurred during the months of June and July in 2012.
The statistics which is part of the Ministry's monthly report is intended to track GBV cases across the country. Most of the information contained in the report was gathered from the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberian National Police and the GBV Unit of the Ministry.
According to the report, the abuses ranged from domestic violence, child rape, gang rape, attempted rape, physical assault, statutory rape, teenage pregnancy and sexual assault.
The report states that 13.5% of adolescence girls were sexually abused by their parents; 25% by close friends and 32% by spouse and intimate partners. The report also notes that 68% was rape cases done to girls between the ages of three months to 13 years.
For her part, the Coordinator of the GBV Unit at the Ministry of Gender and Development, Madam Deddeh KweKwe, has called on every Liberian to take the issue of GBV seriously to prevent violence against women and children.
“GBV is everybody's business, community members must also play their role, the media have to play their role, all should not be left with the government alone. The government may not be able to address the situation at once,” Madam Kwekwe stated.
She said community members have to stand against child rape, domestic violence and all forms of GBV. When this is done, Madam Kwekwe believes, GBV will reduce or end GBV in Liberia.
Speaking last week at her office on Gurley Street in Monrovia after the end of the 16 Days of Activism, Madam Kwekwe said it is her hope that Liberians will positively respond to GBV preventive campaign messages carried across the country during period of the activism.
In an effort to end violence against women, Madam Kwekwe said that her Ministry and partners and other groups such as Journalist Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence and religious groups are actively networking to address GBV problems in Liberia.
Madam Kwekwe: “We have the observatories in all 15 counties. They are community people working to create awareness on SGBV and also help to report GBV cases to the Ministry.”