(Monrovia, Liberia): The President of the Republic, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, says improving and strengthening the enforcement of existing legislation, policies, and standards that support prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence will reduce the rapid incidence of rape, child marriage, and female genital mutilation, amongst others.
Addressing participants at the first-ever national conference on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Liberia under the theme, “A National Call To Action: Inclusive Involvement to Fight Rape and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Liberia”, the Liberian Leader urged stakeholders to discuss openly and contribute collectively to determine the best practices and procedures that would enable the government and people of Liberia prevent and end rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence in the Country.
“This urgent call to action is in response to an alarming increase in rape and sexual and gender-based violence in recent times, especially during a time when we are at war with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic,” the president noted.
He acknowledged that “we are in fact witnessing what is actually an epidemic of rape within the pandemic, affecting mostly children and young girls across the country.”
The Feminist-in-Chief told participants at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, that the National Conference was convened out of his Government’s unfeigned concern about, and commitment to end, the unprecedented surge of rape and SGBV.
He said the conference is a follow-up to a Special High-Level Meeting he called last July to discuss the status of rape and other Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) cases in the country.
“At the end of this conference, the proposals derived will be taken into account and serve as a validation of the “Government of Liberia & Partners’ Roadmap on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 2020-2022”.
“Following the review of this Roadmap over the next two days of our deliberations, the Government plans to achieve effective results by adopting a new approach to addressing the sexual and gender-based violence-prevention process across all sectors, which will be characterized by adequately-funded prevention and response mechanisms,” the Liberian Chief Executive further averred.
He pointed out that Roadmap will be fully “inclusive of every possible thought we have on fighting this menace to our society, with the objective of improving our coordinated national response”.
“We also want to ensure that our women, girls, boys and other vulnerable people at risk of abuse in our society will have increased access to information, protection, and specialized services”, President Weah stressed.
“As President, I want to assure you that I remain relentless in my commitment to the cause of reducing and eradicating sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia,” the president assured Liberians and partners.
Participants at the conference included the members of the inter-ministerial taskforce on SGBV, representatives of the international community, women and youth groups, SGBV stakeholders, and some members of the recently held anti-rape protest, civil society organizations, and traditional leaders.
The landmark initiative was also attended by the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, UN Representative, Sweden Ambassador, traditional leaders, student groups, officials of government, amongst others.
The conference is expected to end on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.