Liberia: Churches, Mosques Embrace Campaign to End Violence Against Women

(file photo).

In an effort to enlighten the country on the need to stop all forms of violence against women, campaigners working in collaboration with Oxfam Liberia's Enough Excuses project have visited churches and mosques, using few minutes of worshipers' time to convey messages against violence against women.

Speaking to this paper at the Philadelphia Central Church in Congo Town Sunday, 6 December, Enough EU Project Coordinator at Oxfam Liberia Madam Comfort V. Somah - Dahn said her mission at the church is to raise awareness on the 16 days of activism.

She explains that Oxfam wants the message to stop violence against women and girls to go out to more people, therefore it is using service time at the church and other worship centers to carry out the awareness.

"This the time that we have to enlighten the country, we have to enlighten our citizens to eliminate violence against women. So it is an ideal time for us to use service time because we find that lot of people are in service and the message [is] going to go across," Madam Somah - Dahn says.

She says they are campaigning against lot of violent acts against women, such as men beating on their wives, children, sexual assault, forceful sexual encounters with women, sexual harassment and early and forced marriages, among others.

"And those are things that we're trying to eliminate in our country Liberia," she says, adding that they are not going to stop until they see this message go across and Liberia adheres to all of the rules against violence against women.

She encourages men to treat women as their partners, friends and as humans, urging men to join the fight to end violence against women.

Earlier speaking with this paper at the Fish Market Mosque in Sinkor Friday, 4 December, Abraham S. Yarvogar said he and his colleague were on a mission at the mosque to preach human rights message as part of the global campaign called the 16 days of human rights activism.

Mr. Yarvogar, Divine Community Youth Program Coordinator and Mr. J. SabatoWiah, Jr., Chairperson of the Dynamic Youth of Liberia, are both working in collaboration with Oxfam Liberia to carry out the message to end violence against women.

Minutes after being allowed time to speak briefly with worshipers at the Fish Market Mosque in Sinkor, Yarvogar explains that in the Liberian setting, violence against women include sexual, physical, emotional, economic and cultural and harmful practices.

He indicates further that women below 18 years are not of age for sexual consent, while adding that those who are of the age of consent should not be forced into having sex because forceful sexual encounter amounts to rape. Even for those that are married, Mr. Yarvogar explains that if the wife is forced to have sex, it's also a marital rape.

According to Yarvogar, many of the men in Liberia are involved in raping women and girls, and as such, Oxfam is carrying out the awareness to change people as a way of helping to stop violence against women.

For his part, Mr. J. SabatoWiah, Jr., Chairperson of the Dynamic Youth of Liberia says at the end of the 16 days activism, he would love to see mothers not complaining about their husbands, sons and daughters.

"Because sometimes we find out that our brothers [that] are coming up if they are looking good, others will even go after them and then they have become sodomized, it's also a rape," Mr. Wiah says. He notes that they are carrying out the awareness messages so that people can realize that what they are doing is wrong and it is against the rights of others.

Responding to the message from the campaigners, Imam KaliluJalloh of the Fish Market Mosque agrees that he thinks the message is true, assuring them that these are things that the Imams are preaching every Sunday.

Imam Jalloh emphasizes that in the mosque they preach against gender - based violence, emotional violence, rape cases, beating on your wife and the children.

Imam Jalloh notes that the Muslims appreciate the campaigners' visit at the mosque, explaining that the Islamic religion has taught the Muslims how to behave to their women, neighbors and children, saying they learned all of that from the Quran.

"... We are saying we want to assure them that the Muslim community we are tolerant and we want to appeal to all the Liberians, whether Muslim or not, this is our country, the more we become tolerant, the more we enjoy peace in our society," Imam Jalloh concludes. The awareness campaign was taken to other churches and mosques during worship times.-

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