RYMI Conducts One-Day Consultative Workshop on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

MONROVIA-Rising Youth Initiative Mentorship Initiative, RYMI has held a one-day consultative workshop on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) with more than 30 participants in attendance on March 23, 2022 in Monrovia.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss and develop operational SEA guidelines to contribute toward the alleviation of SEA in schools, specifically within the City of Paynesville.

The consultation was held with participants including the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), the Liberia National Police, several partner organizations, teachers, parents as well as students from three schools (Fanawin Christian School, Nathan Reeves Charity Memorial High School and Carver Mission Academy).

The purpose of the consultation is to work with schools and discuss ways in preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, improving responses to reports of sexual exploitation and abuse as well as complying with applicable national policy related to sexual gender-based violence (SGBV).

Speaking at the workshop, Sandra Sanoe from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) said, from a recent survey conducted by the ministry on SEA in schools, it is clear that teachers are the ones most involved with SEA within the schools.

She said the MoGCSP has Zero tolerance on all forms of violence and considers it a national emergency, but most people are not aware. Adding, “More needs to be done in terms of creating awareness around the SEA policy.”

Inspector James ToKpah, of the Liberia National Police/ Women and Children Section- Zone 8, said that he heard of shocking SEA issues that have been occurring in schools in the workshop, which are not being reported. He said, sometimes students are abused yet, the perpetrators, as well as the survivors, are not even aware that abuse has taken place.

“More awareness really needs to be done from all sides and when the SEA policy is passed into law, the police will be there to enforce it,” Inspector Tokpah declared. He also called on schools and parents to report cases in a timely manner.

Speaking at the workshop, the Girls for Change Executive Ora B. Keller said that, the SEA workshop marks the beginning of a good partnership with RYMI as her organization is also currently working towards the implementation of the SEA guidelines and policies in schools.  she said one of her organization’s recommendations is  to collaborate and ensure the SEA Policy document comes  to fruition, as well as build a stronger network as the different findings are enforced “we are pledging our support to continue working to ensure that SEA is curb in schools,” Ora explained.

Also Vina Vincent, a participant and member of RYMI SRHR Club,  narrated that  the  continuous  conversation around  SEA in schools  is important  as it allows  students who are  going through these kinds of violence to know that they are not alone and there are people who  know what they are going through and want to find a solution. She called for more awareness to be done. “Let the policy be broken down through awareness raising activities so that young people from all walks of life can be able to understand it,” Vina pleaded.

The Guardian counselor, at Nathan E.Reeves Memorial High School, Nancy Kwah expressed that most of what was discussed at the workshop is exactly what is happening, as young girls are victimized in schools. She said some of them are living with the abuses and there is no way they can express themselves. Madam Kwah said, there must be a policy that can be implemented so that our young people are able to learn under a free and conducive atmosphere.

Most  schools do not have guidelines for students and teachers “A lot was thought here today and  I am going back to pass it on  to our students as a form of awareness raising  so that when such violence occur they will be free to say it out and get help”.

A Parent, Mrs. Rena Paye, said she appreciated the workshop because she learned about some things which she never knew was abuse. Mrs. Paye said she has seen similar activities take place over the years, for instance, teachers praising students’ body parts, male teachers calling female students their wives or husband, etc. But, this workshop served as an eye opener. “People need to take action every day to stop this kind of thing from   happening. It can really hurt parents’ heart”, she explained.

After several consultative meetings/ dialogues with partners and stakeholders, the drafting of the final SEA guideline will also consider consultation of existing policies, as well as guidelines and laws on SGBV in Liberia.

RYMI is a non-profit community-based initiative established in 2013 to mentor young adolescent girls, with the aim of grooming emerging leaders. Our mission is to give every adolescent the opportunity to live a healthy and self-determined life.

The stakeholder meeting was held with support from medica mondiale (mm) Germany, an international women’s rights organization under the project titled “Concerted action for zero tolerance against S/GBV in the Mano River Region.” The primary goal of the project is: “Women and girls in the Mano River Region live in an inclusive, harmonious society, free from sexualized and gender-based violence and discrimination.

 

Comments are closed.