Source: Daily Observer
Liberian women have re-echoed their call for robust steps to be taken by the government, especially the judiciary, to end sexual and Gender based violence (SGBV) against them.
They re-echoed the call at the Women, Peace, and Security forum recently organized in Gbarnga, Bong County by the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
The intent of the forum was to, among other things, provide women in the central region of the country the opportunity to speak out on domestic challenges facing them and find a way forward.
At the forum, the women said there was an urgent need for the government and its partners in the SGBV campaign to widen the corridors through which they can have access to justice as speedily as possible.
Also, they said for genuine peace and security to be a full success story, women’s domestic constraints, as well as those in conflict situations and peace-building processes must be critically addressed by state actors and partners.
In Gbarnga, the Daily Observer managed to speak to some women at the program.
22-year-old Ms. Tenneh Sonnie, a mother of 2, also pregnant at the moment, alleged that her husband knowingly assaulted her dangerously last March by wasting acid water over her body and that of her sister.
“He did that after realizing that I quitted the relationship with him because he beat on me every day for little or no reason.”
She further explained her ordeal: “While my son, my sister, and I were asleep at night, the man crept and entered our bedroom through the ceiling and carefully took his son away from us on the bed. After that he wasted the acid water on the rest of us and suddenly escaped.”
“However,” she said, “I am still seeking legal redress regarding my case, although we are still looking for the man.”
Ms. Sonnie was one of women in the full front of pleading with the government and relevant advocates of SGBV to do more in protecting women’s rights as well as educating them about how to deal with issues challenges they go through.
Another woman, Annie Kroah, 49, is the president of the rural women in Nimba County. She said most women in the interior parts of country are not aware of their fundamental, constitutional and marital rights; they do not have the choice to make independent decisions, as their cultural beliefs and practices depict.
Ms. Kroah gave her own experience as an example of what she meant: “When I was a young as 13-year-old, the man (name withheld) is now my husband, conditionally betrothed and married me.”
“It was conditional because at that time, my uncle borrowed some money from him and he was unable to pay it back. In that case, I was somehow forcefully given out as the man’s wife.”
However, I have coped with the condition to the extent that he and I have nine children, he is now very old, she noted.
Notwithstanding, Ms. Kroah wants women’s rights fully restored in Liberia by educating them on those very rights.
She additionally stated that their demand for the protection of their rights as women, can only take strong effect if perpetrators face justice without compromises and corruption within the judiciary.
The rural women leader mentioned that ‘family settlement’ of rape and other domestic violence against women must be disallowed by letting the rule of law prevail.