BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The gender coordinator for Grand Bassa says even though her office is working hard to put a dent in the numbers, sexual and gender-based violence is on the rise in her county.
Nattie Doepoe says from January to July 2018 alone, there have been a total of 41 cases reported. Those statistics, she says, show that more needs to be done if her office will succeed in the fight.
Of the cases reported, Doepoe says five are rape cases while the others are domestic violence and persistent non-support cases.
In an interview with several journalists, Doepoe called on the media to join efforts with the Ministry of Gender to raise awareness about violence against women and girls across Liberia.
“I want to appeal to you guys to please take at least five minutes of your broadcast time daily to create awareness on sexual and gender-based violence against us,” she said. “Put the messages in the various local languages for the lay man to understand.”
Doepoe says she’s employing a variety of strategies to reduce the occurrences, including setting up gender clubs in 16 public schools to create awareness. She notes that members of the clubs have been supporting her work by engaging in regular campus sensitization about issues involving sexual and gender-based violence.
However, she noted that despite all of these efforts, the lack of a save home in the county to cater to survivors of such violence constitutes a major challenge. She underscored the need for opening a save home in the county.
Besides a safe home, others who have campaigned to reduce violence against women say women also need to be empowered. The chair of the Bassa Women Development Association, Martha F. Karnga, said her group focuses on building the capacity of women in Grand Bassa to speak out against issues affecting them in the society.
Karnga said confronting violence against women is not only about dealing with rape, persistent non-support and domestic violence. She said denying women the right to own land, as well as limiting the leadership roles women can play in society can also indirectly affect those areas.
“You men need to sit and really concentrate about some of the treatment you give women and put yourselves in their shoes – if it were you who were being treated in such manner,” she said. “You men need to join us in this fight if Liberia must succeed in fighting violence against women in all forms she noted.”
Klubo Tutay, a business woman who sells at the Buchanan General Market, also agreed with Karnga on the need for men to join the fight against violence against women.
“We don’t know why men have become very wicked to us despite all the care [we give] for them,” Tutay said.
The 61-year-old trader told The Bush Chicken that she was a participant in the Gender Ministry’s adult education program conducted two years ago. She boasts that she can now write her own name and sees the acquisition of formal education as a means through which women can attain independence and gain access to other opportunities.
In 2017, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection reported that 1,685 cases of sexual and gender-based violence was reported across the country. But experts in the field say the statistics likely do not reflect the actual number as few women and girls are willing to report abuse due to a variety of issues.
Featured photo by George Momo