Tuesday, 07 December 2021 10:09

End Gender-based Violence Now! Featured

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Featured Image: CENTAL in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden conducts awareness against Gender-Based Violence in Cotton Tree Community, Gbarnga.

By: Atty. Isaac F. Nyantte, Jr.

 

CENTAL has an Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC), where cases bordering on corruption and other unwholesome practices are reported. One of such cases involved an instructor at a school in Monrovia, who attempted to have an affair with a female student as a pre-condition for returning her telephone that was seized by him. He had asked the student to retrieve the phone from his house. But the student did not go alone. She was accompanied by a friend. This had the teacher upset as the presence of the friend worked to abort plans of the affair. He did not give the phone to the student as promised. The student’s mother, being upset by the instructor’s action, proceeded to the campus and forcibly retrieved the phone from the school.  Sadly, the student was expelled by the School on the basis of her mother’s conduct.

This matter was brought to CENTAL’s ALAC, which then intervened to ensure that the girl returns to school. Yet, the school remain adamant. It would not even give the girl her documents to enable her enroll in another school. ALAC referred the matter to the Ministry of Education (MoE) and remained engaged with the investigation. The MoE established that the school’s action was arbitrary and not in conformity with law, instructed the school to re-instate the girl. Nonetheless, because of the toxicity associated with the school, the girl opted to enroll in another school. All necessary documents were then given to her. The school is yet to take action against the teacher. This is yet another classic example of how women are subjected to different forms of violence every day.

Gender-based violence is not only an issue widely seen in Liberia, it is common in many societies due to societal structures, crisis, or breakdown of law and order. This was widely seen during the heat of the Liberian crisis, when violence was used as a weapon of war to enslave women.

For many young girls and women, this situation which occurred during the war days, still continues today, with families concealing the information for fear that their girl child would become stigmatized by society. The UNHCR Liberia Factsheet January – December 2019, reported that Rape remains the most reported form of gender-based violence reported in Liberia.  According to the report, 46% of cases under investigation by the Liberia National Police during the period concerned children under the age of 18years. Another form of violence, sexual extortion or sextortion, which is a form of corruption, is also occurring in the Liberian society. According to CENTAL’s State of Corruption Report (SCORE) 2021, 12% of Liberians witnessed sextortion during the year preceding the survey. This is a significant number especially considering the veil of secrecy, culture of silence, and backlash of stigma that tend to be associated sextortion. In other words, the extent to which the menace is occurring is possibly greater though it might not be public for many to see.  

During the civil war, the perpetrators were mainly rebel forces.  However, after the conflict the perpetrators include not just ex-combatants, but community or family members, teachers, husbands or partners. GBV does not only lead to physical and mental trauma for the victim. It often carries longer-term social consequences for the victims themselves, such as stigmatization by their families and the community. Around 15 percent of those who were raped ended up getting pregnant. A high rate of divorce and wife abandonment often follow.

Reports from the Ministry of Gender and Development in 2008 show a similar trend: 34 percent out of over 10,000 reported protection incidents are GBV related. Domestic violence is the most prevalent of all protection incidents (26 percent out of all reported cases).

Taking a cursory look at the relationship between gender and corruption, studies show the relationship between the women in positions of power in countries around the globe, with emphasis on anti- corruption measures in place, to that of the opposite gender. Findings show that with more women in power, there were less forms of corruption. Gender as viewed from different cultures, influence the lives of men and women in different ways.

In many typical African societies, women are limited to domestic work and are regularly confronted with corruption when dealing with education, health and other public services. According to a  UNODC Report titled” The time is now” Addressing the gender dimensions of Corruption, and published in 2020,   In the health care sector, women are particularly vulnerable as they have reproductive health needs that may require regular attention. They can face corruption for things as simple as getting appointments to having to pay for treatment that they should have received for free. On a daily basis in Liberia, at different   health facilities , women have to pay unjustified fees after having to go through so much procedure, only to get medical treatment. A network dominated by men, whether in the public or private sectors, works at the exclusion of women, so that they don’t have access to some cardinal information, or political space.

On the other hand, women in leadership roles have been shown to be more motivated and invested in addressing aspects of corruption that are closer to their own reality, i.e. in areas such as public service delivery of health care and education. They may also be more interested in addressing the gendered currency of corruption, namely where women are asked for sexual favours to access services that are, in fact, sometimes even free.

In conclusion, a preventive strategy targeting men and women that strives for knowledge, attitudinal and behavioral change, by raising awareness of SGBV across all these pillars remains cardinal, especially as we commemorate 16 days of activism. This must involve a mix of advocacy and public awareness campaigns using various media at the community, county and national level.

 

 

 

Read 8468 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 December 2021 11:17

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Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

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