Grand Kru County Senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Gender, Children & Social Protection has promised to work with President George Weah and other colleagues to pass into law the Domestic Violence bill, in order to strengthen the rape law.
Senator Coleman said at a program which marked the launching of the 16 Days of Activism that Liberia is ranging very high in terms of rape and sexual gender-based violence cases, despite several efforts being made to reduce or eradicate it from the country.
"The Domestic violence law will be passed by the House and we will ensure that the Rape Law is strengthened in order to save the lives of our women and girls in the country that are being raped and experiencing sexual gender-based violence on a daily basis, and it's my hope that the President will sign it into law," he said.
Senator Coleman made the statement yesterday at the official launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender violence under the theme: "End Gender-Based Violence in Workplaces, Schools, and Communities' take Action, Report and Promote a Liberia Free of Violence." It was held at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, followed by a parade.
In an angry tone, Senator Coleman said there is a need to strengthen the rape law, especially for children that are raped and who died in the process due to injuries. He called on the justice system to ensure that perpetrators receive harsh punishments.
"Liberia had a civil crisis but, according to statistics, Liberia is topping the high rate of rape and sexual gender-based violence cases above Sierra Leone, and that is the reason why we need the President to set up a team to investigate the cause of the huge cases of rape in Liberia so we all can find solutions to those problems to save our women and girls," Senator Coleman said.
President Weah, who officially launched the 16 Days of Activism, said the theme of this year's 16 Days activism captures the prevailing realities of gender-based challenges facing Liberian women and that must be tackled with utmost speed so that Liberia is not left behind in the fight against SGBV.
He promised that his government will ensure that the House passes into law the Domestic Violence bill and strengthen the rape Law because his government, through its Pro-poor Agenda for transformation, was elected to ensure that women's voices are heard.
"This is one of the most shameful and horrible acts unfortunately on the rise in this country; therefore, all forms of gender-based violence against women are unacceptable and we must act now to save our women and girls," President Weah said.
He urged Liberian women to stand up for their rights and resist all forms of violence against them, because the fight against gender-based violence in Liberia, coupled with the need to improve a lot of women, has reached a point that requires the collective action of all and not the government alone.
The Head of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, Madam Frances Greaves also called on the government, through the justice system, to step up its gains by putting in more effort, to ensure that the Criminal Court "E," which is responsible to handle sexual violence cases, is up to task in fast-tracking cases of sexual violence .
"We believe that the Criminal Court 'E' has not performed up to the task and we need to put that court to the task, because the deterrent is not enough. That is why we have more cases of sexual violence in our country, and its time to act now and strengthen the rape law in order to protect our women and children," she said.
YWCA Coordinator Madam Roseline Toweh, who spoke on behalf of Liberian women, called on the President and other officials of government to increase the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection's budget so that the ministry will be able to handle cases of sexual violence in the country.
She explained that due to limited resources, the ministry is unable to fight several cases of sexual violence. And so if the ministry gets the necessary financial support, cases of rape and other forms of violence will reduce.
The program brought together several officials of government, members of the Diplomatic Corps, different women groups, and students who paraded the principal streets of Monrovia.
Gloria T. Tamba