Liberia: Partners Sub-Grant SGBV Funds to Improve Reporting

European Union (EU) Head of Cooperation to Liberia Mr. Theodorus Kaspers says through the newly launched Enough! Project, more than 65 percent of the funds are sub-granted to local women rights organizations so that more action can be taken from within communities surrounding sexual gender - based violence (SGBV).

The disclosure was made Tuesday, 21 January in Vai Town, Bushrod Island where Oxfam with support from the EU launched the project "Enough! Empowering women, girls, boys and men to take positive action in ending SGBV in Ghana, Liberia and Mali."

"Through the Enough! Project, having more than 65% of the funds sub-granted to local women rights organizations, we are confident that by increased participation, resources and capacity building activities in transformative leadership more action can be taken from within communities," he said Tuesday, 21 January in Monrovia.

"It will allow for improved monitoring and reporting on cases of SGBV, changes in structural behaviors and active participation of women in decision - making ," Mr. Kaspers continues.

He adds that the Enough! Project along with the extensive EU/UN joint program Spotlight Initiative also focusing on the elimination of sexual and gender - based violence, translates the EU commitment - to make a real and lasting difference for women and girls all over the world - into action.

"Breaking the stereotype, breaking the culture of silence is the first step to transforming high [prevalence] of gender - based violence and start building a balanced, empowered society. Attitudinal change is a game changer. Indeed, addressing adverse social norms and all forms of discrimination could be leveraged as a vehicle for gender equity," he says.

According to Mr. Kaspers, violence against women and girls remains one of the most significant human rights violations in Liberia, noting that with this project, the EU aims at creating an enabling environment for women and girls to learn, exercise and claim their rights to ultimately end violence against them.

"We strive to strengthen capacities of community actors and women's organizations to prevent sexual and gender - based violence (SGBV) crimes and to ensure that there are response services in place for SGBV survivors," he says.

Lisa Kindervater of Oxfam reveals that the project worth about 1.7 million dollars and is being launched with the Foundation for Community Initiatives (FCI).

Out of the amount, she says 1.5 million comes from the European Union, expressing thanks for the project because it will help a lot of women and girls, men and boys from Margibi, River Cess, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh and Montserrado Counties.She notes that out of 16 local organizations that applied to be part of the project, eight of them were selected.

Madam Kindervater observes that because of the shame and stigma surrounding SGBV cases, only a small number of them get reported, as survivors of these crimes handle the cases through family interventions.

But through the Enough! Project, she says partners will be working with the communities so that people do not compromise SGBV cases. Of all the cases reported last year, she laments that only one percent was adjudicated.

She warns that there is never any excuse for abuse, as she dismisses the notion that people get raped either for their dress code or their movement, adding: "We want to say that's not true! That's not true!"

Also speaking, Margibi County District #3 Rep. Ellen Attoh Wreh says she sees it as an insult and an affront to those who worked to ensure the passage of the Domestic Violence Act, to still have all the SGBV cases around as if people are not in the know of the law.

She warns that if everyone continues to hide behind culture and family business as a reason of compromising SGBV cases, nothing will be achieved in the fight against domestic violence.

Shah Liton, Oxfam Country Director calls for the collaborative efforts of all in the fight against violence, saying enough is enough, and they cannot tolerate it anymore.

For her part, Deputy Gender Minister Alice Howard says the Enough! Project is a very important project that the Ministry of Gender is very happy to be a part of.

She gives credit to the campaigners for the level of awareness which has seen a lot of cases of violence being reported today, but stresses that "We want to step forward into a positive reaction, positive norms where women, boys, men can move freely in the society without being harmed, especially women who are most vulnerable."

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