News / Africa

Liberia Vows to End Violence Against Women

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attends a West African regional bloc ECOWAS summit on the crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau, at Fondation Felix Houphouet Boigny in Yamoussoukro, February 27, 2013.
Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attends a West African regional bloc ECOWAS summit on the crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau, at Fondation Felix Houphouet Boigny in Yamoussoukro, February 27, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
— In the lead up to Women’s Day, on March 8, Liberia has become the latest nation to sign a pledge to end violence against women and girls. In Dakar, the human-rights group U.N. Women says nearly 100 countries have no specific legal provisions against domestic violence.

A 45-year-old housewife from Monrovia, Lucy Morris, says violence against women is a serious problem in Liberia.

“Many of us are beaten by our husbands.  My husband beats me almost every time.  He hurts me a lot.  I have taken the complaints to the female [rights] lawyer and they have called him for an investigation, but this is still happening," she said.

Morris is not alone.

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show 33 percent of married women in Liberia have reported experiencing domestic violence.  Up to 77 percent of Liberian women say they have been the victim of sexual violence.

Human rights groups say it is likely these numbers are even higher, as many of the cases go unreported.

Liberian Ministry of Gender and Development spokesperson Smith Toby says Liberia has laws in place against both domestic violence and rape, but many cases are never prosecuted.

“All of these things [rape, violence] happen, but at times it is being settled outside of court.  There is a situation where some family members will come in and they want to settle it the family way.  And those out-of-court settlements are what the government is trying to put a very, very strong restriction on,” he said.

He said many women are too scared to report sexual or domestic violence.

Earlier this month, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took a step forward in addressing the issue when she signed a U.N. pledge to end violence against women and girls.  She is only the 19th head of state to do so.

In the pledge, the Liberian government has promised to adopt and implement stronger domestic violence legislation, allocate funds for a National Action Plan on Sexual and Gender-based Violence, and increase efforts to improve women’s access to justice in cases of gender-based violence.

Toby said this pledge will help more women come forward and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice.

"Now you have women in Liberia who can speak on issues that affect them," he said. "They know what their rights are and they speak for their rights.  So it is the hope of the ministry that the signing of this document will also boost awareness and help women, and also educate men against gender and sexual-based violence, and domestic violence.”

The acting administrative coordinator of Women in Progressive Action is Salome Cankpane.  Her local aid organization helps victims of gender-based violence seek legal counsel.

She says the pledge is an important gesture on behalf of the government, but it is now up to Liberian women to take a stand.

“The government has been trying to stop it [violence against women] because they have put rules in place.  The laws are there," she said. "I think this particular signing is going to take effect - if we, who hear these cases, bring it up and speak about it, and speak against it, the law will be forced to take effect.  Justice will follow right now.”

In accordance with the pledge, Liberia’s Ministry of Gender and Development says they plan to continue to work alongside the government, as well as human-rights groups, to ensure that the rights of women and girls are better protected.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid