25 November 2008

Liberia: 16-Day Gender Awareness Campaign Launched - President Sirleaf Urges All to Get Involved

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the fight against gender violence must involve everyone. The campaign, the President said, must begin at homes, where parents have an obligation to protect their children. The President admonished parents to exercise care and caution to keep children out of harms way. In the schools, churches and homes, the Liberian leader said, everyone must join in the efforts to protect the children.

The President called for the introduction in the curriculum of Liberian schools, the effects of violence against women to help instill a culture of respect for women and children.

An Executive Mansion release quotes President Johnson Sirleaf as renewing Government's support for the rape law to ensure that those who abuse children and women are kept behind bars.

Speaking Tuesday at the Monrovia City during the official launch of 16-days of Activism Against Gender violence, the President urged the Association of Liberian Female Lawyers to get more actively involved in the fight against gender violence by vigorously defending cases of violence against children and women.

The President also called on the media to extensively expose cases of gender violence in the country, in an effort to help create more public awareness regarding the damaging effects of the practice.

Gender Minister Varbah Gayflor, whose Ministry is spearheading the 16-day campaign, made a passionate plead for more action to curb rape and other vices associated with gender violence. Minister Gayflor said the fight against gender violence will continue until the rights of women and children are protected under the laws of the country.

In a keynote address, former Interim President of the Liberia Marketing Association, Madam Comfort Bedell Marshall, noted that the prejudices against women continue to prevail, despite efforts by Government to address the imbalances. Women, she noted, are still victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other forms of abuse. Madam Bedell said to address the prejudices, women must be given more opportunities in society. The support, Mrs. Bedell said, must come in all forms; "from the male dominated law enforcement officers and the courts."

Special United Nations Secretary-general Special Representative, Margaret Loj, noted that the fight against gender violence can not be won by government alone. She said it requires the cooperation of all to fight the menace. Madam Loj said the UN is fully backing the Liberian Government's efforts to eradicate violence against women in Liberia.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign to help raise awareness against gender violence. Among other measures, activists intend to create massive awareness of the various laws against gender violence and demand more accountability during the 16-days of Activism.

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