16 May 2019

Liberia: RICCE Launches Access to Justice for Rape Survivors

Nimba — -Domestic Violence, Socially Disadvantaged Group' Project In Bahn City, Nimba

The Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE), a non-governmental organization in collaboration with the United Nations Development program (UNDP), and Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Right Joint Rule of Law program in Liberia, recently launched the Accelerating Access to Justice Project in Bahn city, Nimba County.

The one-year project seeks to provide an accelerated access to justice for survivors of rape victims, sexually abused and socially disadvantaged persons, particularly women and children in rural communities will be implemented in five districts including Zoegeh, Saclepea Mah, Twah River, Buuyao and Gbehlay-Geh respectively.

The project will operate on two components: providing pro Bono legal service for survivors of rape and domestic violence and building stakeholders capacity to take lead in community response level to domestic violence.

Speaking at the launch, the program director of RICCE, Madam Renee N. Gibson said the launching was in continuation of activities of RICCE on accessing justice for survivors of gender-based violence which started May 2018.

She rallied the support of communities; especially in which they will be operating in ensuring that sexual and gender based violence is minimized or eliminated.

"In 2017 alone, a research conducted by the UN Women in Liberia and the Gender Ministry revealed that 192 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were perpetuated in Nimba, which is very alarming," Madam Gibson averred.

"We want to encourage the local leaders to work along with us in making sure women's rights are respected and not violated every time. "We are not here to take their power from them, but we have come to give them the necessary information that will help them deal with issues affecting women and children,". Madam Gibson told reporters in an exclusive interview shortly after the launch.

The statutory superintendent of Zoegeh, Rev. Zephaniah Gbahn who launched the project pledged his districts support to the project and asked all local leaders to work with RICCE in ending domestic violence which he said "is not good for our civilized society". The statutory superintendent applauded the former president of Liberia; Madam Ellen Johnson sirleaf in signing into law the Rape Act which according to him has help decreased the unwholesome act of domestic violence in our Liberian society.

"With the passage of the Rape Law by Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, we have observed the present change in the attitude of men towards our women and girls. But we still need to do more". Rev. Gbahn noted. "Had that bill not been passed, our Liberian society would have been permeated with evils, targeting mainly women and girls," Rev Gbahn who said his mother was a victim of domestic violence, continued. "Knowing our term of reference, TOR, as a direct representative of the president of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, I hereby launch and endorse and launch the work of RICCE in Zoegeh, Twah River, Buuyao, Saclepea, and Gbor districts".

According to our contributor in Nimba, the launching program was attended by local leaders including district commissioners, town chiefs, officers of the Liberia national women and children protection section, women groups, students amongst others, with all who remarked committing themselves to the project.

The Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment, RICCE, was established in 2005 with goal to empower rural communities to take charge of their destiny.

The group has been working in Nimba since 2007 with various partners in providing access to justice for survivors of rape, sexual and gender based violence and the socially disadvantaged people.

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