9 January 2013

Liberia: SGBV Threatens Liberia's Peace, Development

The Gender Advisor at the Ministry of Gender and Development, Timothy Al Paulus, has stressed the need for Liberian journalists to increase their reportage on the sexual gender based violence (SGBV) in the country.

Paulu said "Sexual Gender Based Violence is a major threat to Liberia's sustainable development and peace."

Speaking over the weekend when he delivered a key note address at an award ceremony on SGBV Coverage by journalists at the Corina Hotel, Paulus said continuous awareness on SGBV will help to reduce it occurrences and shape the society in the best possible way and also help to expose and generate public awareness against the ills and evils of society.

"The Liberian media needs to attach serious importance to the coverage and reportage of SGBV issues. Let's take the recent Indian media as a case study in terms of coverage and reportage of SGBV issues. We are all aware of the recent wave of protest in the streets of Delhi and other cities in India. The Indian media catalyzed anger among citizens and civil society groups since the rape and subsequent death of the medical student. The continuous coverage of the spontaneous protests all over the country by print and electronic media has created a momentum within the society and the government of India to focus on criminal acts and take immediate steps toward preventing such brutal crime," Paulus asserted.

According to him, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Gender and Development, along with its partners, has taken numerous steps to address the issue. "The adoption of international instruments including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommendations, and the formulation of several national documents such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the passing of the Rape Law, the establishment of the SGBV Crimes Unit, and the Criminal Court E, to prosecute (in a fast track manner) cases of sexual abuse, the Gender Based Violence National Action Plan and the National Action Plan for the implementation of Resolution 1325 are key steps taken in this direction," Paulus added.

He furthered that sexual violence against women and children remains a major challenge and reported cases of rape are alarmingly high, and in, the vast majority of cases the victims are minors, frequently very young Children.

He stated that a statistics gathered by the Ministry of Gender and Development between 2011 and 2012, shows that a total of 2,711 cases of rape involving children were reported-- 2678 cases involving girls, 33 cases involving boys and 305 cases involving children between the ages of zero and five.

He said such alarming statistics is a clear indication that concrete action should be taken to avert this situation and protect children from perpetrators of sexual abuse.

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