“Stop Violence Against Women and Children” and ‘’Every Child has a Right to a Better Life.’’
Liberia launched the global campaign 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women at an event in central Monrovia, attended by H.E. President George Manneh Weah.
Speaking at the launch event, President Weah said, “despite numerous efforts by government and international partners, violence against women remains a challenge in Liberia.”
“The elimination of all forms of gender-based violence, including rape, is a major priority for the government. We all must unite to rid our society of this menace,” President Weah said.
More than 600 people took part in the event, held on 25 November 2018 at the Antionette Tubman Stadium. The crowd danced, sang and carried signs that read: “Our children are not breadwinners’’, “Stop Violence Against Women and Children” and ‘’Every Child has a Right to a Better Life.’’
Songs that focused on ending violence against women, speeches and a skit were highlights of the event, which focused on the national theme: “End Gender-Based Violence in Workplaces, Schools and Communities: Take Action, Report it and Promote a Liberia Free of Violence.’’
The skits, performed by groups of children, drew attention to the rape of girls and boys, child labor and girls’ education. The musical performances featured the four winners of a song competition sponsored by UN Women, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Orange Phone Company and TunesLiberia. The songs performed were: “Voice of Woman,” by Keri & Gospel Medic; “Gender Equality’’ by E-Lo; “Don’t Beat Women’’ by Rhyme Sean; and “Say No to Rape’’ by Kobazzie.
UN Resident Coordinator Yacoub El Hillo read the message from the UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres. “Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic. It is a moral affront to all women and girls, a mark of shame on all our societies and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,’’ he quoted the UN Secretary-General saying.
The Minister of Gender also provided some statistics to reiterate her point. Of the 892 gender based violence (GBV) cases reported in 2017, 506 were rape cases. In 2016, rape accounted for 778 of the 1,413 GBV cases reported, according to Minister Tarr.
Sen. Peter Coleman, Chair of the Senate Committee on Gender, promised the women of Liberia that the senate will move quickly to pass the Domestic Violence law and would amend the rape law to toughen the penalty for perpetrators.
Others who spoke at the event included Cllr. Deweh Gray, Board Chair of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFLL), who called for the enforcement of existing laws.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Gender, Williametta Saydee Tarr, re-echoed President Weah and the UNSG’s sentiments about violence against women, saying “gender-based violence remains a major threat to human security of women and children in Liberia and around the world.”