Monrovia — Last week, concerned Liberian citizens peacefully and passionately called attention to sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV), protesting the high incidence of rape cases in Liberia, the impunity of perpetrators and the lack of support for survivors.
The U.S. Embassy stands with all those who have joined to fight sexual- and gender- based violence in this country, stressing that preventing and addressing violence against women, girls and others who are vulnerable is a human rights imperative, not only in Liberia, but globally. From rape to intimate partner violence to harassment and intimidation of activists, SGBV remains pervasive, and no country has ended it. SGBV threatens the health and safety of survivors and is a barrier to social and economic development.
In responding to SGBV, we must listen to the voices of the survivors and their allies, voices which have been suppressed too long and too often. We underscore the importance of protecting the rights to peacefully exercise freedoms of expression, petition, and assembly.
The U.S. Embassy commends the efforts of President George M. Weah in putting forth a well-considered Roadmap to End Sexual and Gender-based Violence that includes a comprehensive prevention strategy and commitment to funding for various ministries to support the strategy. Taking practical actions such as establishing an SGBV call center and providing resources for survivor support will demonstrate the Government of Liberia's resolve. We urge the Government to target resources to survivors, take a strong stand against female genital mutilation, and ensure swift and transparent prosecution.
Ending SGBV will require active, persistent, and above all, unified leadership from policymakers, health practitioners, community and faith-based groups, law enforcement and civil society. The U.S. Embassy, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), partners with Liberians to address SGBV in all its forms and to share best practices and lessons learned. USAID's "My Voice Platform" launched in June 2020 in Margibi County receives SMS messages or phone calls from victims of SGBV to provide instant referral to support services. USAID's advocacy has resulted in the collection and inclusion of SGBV data, including information on female genital mutilation and domestic violence, in the 2019-2020 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS) to help inform effective responses to the problem. INL embedded advisors work alongside Liberian counterparts in the Liberia National Police to offer technical assistance on investigation of SGBV cases; they also provide consultative support to attorneys in the Liberian SGBV unit on prosecution of SGBV cases and to court personnel on timely and appropriate processing. The U.S. government's annual "16 Days of Activism Against GBV" campaign each November highlights success stories and work yet to be accomplished on SGBV around the world, including in Liberia.
As Liberians move forward to turn last week's demonstrations into robust action against SGBV, the United States will continue to support the people and Government of Liberia in fighting this scourge.