SOURCE: New Republic Liberia

We Are An Unprotected Campaigner is holding a candlelight vigil in honor and solidarity of lives lost and survivors of gender-based violence in Liberia in commemoration of its five years of existence.

The event will take place December 10, 2023, at the Women’s Hall, Invincible Park at the Fish Market as part of activities making the observance of the 16th Day of Activism.

Liberia’s 2020 Demographic and Health Survey found that 60% of women aged 15-49 had experienced physical violence, including 33% who had experienced such violence in the 12 months before the survey.

“For the past five years, we have been unprotected campaigners who have been dedicated to raising awareness about sexually gender-based violence in Liberia. During these 16 Days of Activism, we have organized a candlelight vigil to honor and remember survivors and victims of this violence,” Noami Tulay-Solanke said.

Noami Solanke is the Founder and Executive Director of Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) and a ‘We Are Unprotected Campaigner.

This year, the campaign promises to be even more impactful. On Sunday at 6:30 pm, the campaigners are calling on all Liberians to join them in wearing all black and participating in the vigil.

“This is an opportunity to light a candle in memory of someone you know who has experienced abuse or even to stand up for your freedom. Together we can work towards justice, freedom, and protection for all,” Solanke added.

She said the lightening of the candle symbolizes that they are visible and present and pushes the government and people in power accountability to say that women human rights defenders will not rest until justice is served.

Facia Harris is the Executive Coordinator of Paramount Young Women Initiatives and a member of the ‘We Are Unprotected Campaign’ and International Women of Courage 2021. She said, “The campaign was established five years ago to call for accountability in sexual and gender-based violence and has been working over the years to create public awareness for prevention and protection of women against sexual violence, especially rape and we have been identifying with survivors and engaging in a lot of advocacy activities.”

The group is a women’s rights movement that has taken visible action to hold the government accountable for the prevalence of SGBV in Liberia. The ‘more than me’ sexual scandal, Odell Sharmon, and the alleged opening of a 3-year-old girl’s vagina with a razor blade in Gbarpolu County were among many cases taken on by the group.

Facia explained that “The Candlelight Vigil which will take place on 10th December, the end of the 16th days of activism, and also the International Human Rights Day is being held to honor the memory of all women and girls they lost over the years and also to call for accountability in the fight against Sexual Gender-based Violence and call for support for survivors.

This is the third year since the commemoration of the candlelight vigil and the group is hosting this as a campaign with all of the organizations that are part of the ‘We Are Unprotected Campaign.’

“We are asking everyone to come out wearing their black T-shirts this Sunday so we can continue our campaign to just be still for a while and pay homage to all the lives that didn’t get justice,” Facia Harris said.

According to Facia, this year’s event will aligned with a fundraiser, a fund that will be used to support a safe home that housed some of these survivors.

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