-Rights Campaigners Cautions Government
By: R. Joyclyn Wea
MONROVIA-Several women’s rights and advocacy groups under the banner; ‘We Are Unprotected Campaigner’s joined their local and international counterparts to observe the start of the 16 days of activism with a call for the National Government to ensure the rights of women and girls across the country are protected. This they believe can happen with a system that is favorable for all.
The 16 days of activism movement was started by activists at the inaugural women’s global leadership institute in 1991 and is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. It continues to be coordinated each year by the center for women’s global leadership.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children and to rid society of abuse permanently.
The 16 days of activism kick off on 25th November with the international day for the elimination of violence against women and girls and runs until 10th December (human rights day).
Steve miller is the chairman of Duazon Community In Lower Margibi county. He says “if there’s nothing wrong with the system, nobody will be calling for it to be fixed, being the head of the home, does not place you above the woman or means you should manipulate the system.”
Miller commits to work with the group as a lawyer himself to encourage more women to help push the government to fix the system saying “something is wrong with the system and it is about you, that is why you need to take steps.”
“We want you to come up and speak about your issues. Men preferred to help their fellow men rather than women this is because even the courtrooms are male-dominated because of this, they are adding and abiding their male counterparts to violate women,” he indicated.
Informing women on the different medium provided to them under the law to get redress to their issues, Facia Harris says rape has been a long-standing issue for the people of Liberia and encourages women not to be afraid of the law and that they should protect their girls and boys by reporting any such act.
According to her, during the Liberian civil war in the 1990s, rape was used as a war against women’s bodies instead of changing the president which was the actual intent of the war.
She cautions women to share their little knowledge of rape and SGBVs with their sons and husband so that they do not come into conflict with the laws adding “We cannot have development if we do not address SGBVs issues.
Giving the historicity of the ‘We Are Unprotected Campaign, FeJAL President, Siatta Scotts-Johnson says, established four years ago, the group is a result of a documentary done by a journalist tagged ‘unprotected’ which bring to light cases of rape that took placed at a local learning institution in Central Monrovia called ‘More Than Me.’
According to Johnson, this led to several protestations that witness the coming together of women’s movements who later agreed to wear black every Thursday as a reminder to memorialize those who lost their lives to SGBV.
Since then, Siatta said they have been wearing black not only because girls are tempered with, but also because of the women and girls are consistently violated without anyone taking action.
The deputy chairlady of the women of Duazon Community says the group has been helpful in the process of training local women to deal with rape and SGBV issues in their respective communities.
Gbolu Massaboi informed the gathering that teenage pregnancy was a major issue in their community, but through the program, they started to educate girls, and today, that has become history.
“I want us to ensure we put this community on the map in order for the women of this community voice to be heard out there. Because you will not believe that there were women in this group who could not stand to talk among people, but because of the training that we received, today, you see these women speaking out on issues.”
The 16 days of activism campaign is also tagged the period of activism. Hawa Wilson said this is due to the domestic and worldwide causes, the history of Filipino youth, and because of the ills of society the youth moved to seek reforms.
In support of this civil society initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, launched 2008 the campaign UNiTE by 2030 to end violence against women and girls, which runs parallel to the 16 days of activism.
Every year, the UNiTE campaign focuses on a specific theme. This year’s theme is “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls” and invites everyone to play their role in ending violence against women and girls, show support and solidarity to women’s rights activists and resist the rollback on women’s rights.