The Country Officer of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Massa Crayton, has underscored the need for increased awareness on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in the country.
Serving as the Chief Launcher and Guest Speaker at the official opening of the Legal Aid Mobile Clinic of the NGO called Her Voice Liberia in Monrovia recently, Crayton described the exercise by the local human rights advocacy group as a brilliant one, noting that there are factors that are preventing the involvement of everyone in tackling matters of SGBV.
“We keep talking about it and seeing little results. We need a genuine conversation among ourselves. We don’t need to be just talking without results; we need to see genuine action. We can’t just talk when an incident occurs and after a few days, it is gone,” Crayton said.
According to her, unspeakable acts continue to take place in many communities, committed by people who are not strangers but people who live with their victims in the same communities.
Crayton stressed, “We need this genuine conversation, real conversation among ourselves; we need real concrete actions.”
“There are so many instances of incest in our homes, there are so many cases of domestic violence in our homes, we the women are not to keep quiet but we keep quiet because we have to protect our homes, our husbands. We suffer the pain and humiliation that go with it, so these acts will not go away until we speak out,” she continued.
Madam Crayton stated that there are issues that are having impact on getting real results from SGBV cases.
“Let’s start with the justice system, in most cases, the LNP is the first respondent, but most times because of communities involvement these things become compromised at the police station,” she said.
While emphasizing on the role of the justice system, Crayton indicated, “We also see where the entire justice system is failing us. It fails us because we do not have the money to hire lawyers, so we cannot go to court. Even at the police station we do not have money to register our case because the police will ask for money to buy papers and once we do not have the money, we cannot continue with the case.”
According to her, community-level compromise done at the family level is another major hindrance in the fight against Sexual-Based Violence.
“Families like to compromise issues because they do not want the family to be stigmatized by violence committed against a girl within the family. They will say we do not want people to say our daughter was raped, so let’s keep this thing quiet,” she noted.
“This must stop, this is why I say we need this genuine and real conversation on how to address this thing,” she added.
Madam Crayton, however, encouraged the public to take advantage of Her Voice Legal Aid Mobile Clinic and to join the fight in order to reduce the number of SGBV cases in the society.