Joint Statement from the Embassies of France, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, ECOWAS Commission, and the Delegation of the European Union On the occasion of the launch of the 30th Anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Global Campaign
Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the most widespread and persistent violations of the rights of women and girls. Globally, one in three women will experience some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime.
In 2020 alone, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) reported a total of 2,240 GBV cases. GBV can be physical, sexual, emotional, or economic. In Liberia, denial of resources, abandonment of families by the sole provider of that family, child abuse and sexual abuse by parents/guardians, physical abuse or rape of a partner, female genital mutilation, and early/forced marriages are all examples of gender-based violence.
Based on available data, rape appears to be the most prevalent form, making up nearly 70 percent of reported cases, according to the United Nations Population Fund Liberia (UNFPA-L). Globally, the most prevalent form is intimate partner violence, which includes sexual violence. We know that the actual number of cases are likely much higher as many cases go unreported. It is important to create ways for all types of gender-based violence to be reported safely and respectfully.
President Weah declared rape a national emergency last year. We argue that all forms of gender-based violence, including sexual violence and intimate-partner violence constitute a quiet but persistent, prevalent national epidemic.
Women accounted for over 95 percent of reported SGBV cases between 2018-2020 (UNFPA-L). Violence is, however, not exclusive to women and girls; it impacts everyone. The number of reported cases of the rape of boys is small but growing. Failure to address this violence also entails a significant cost for the future. Numerous studies have shown that children growing up with violence are more likely to become perpetrators of violence in the future. It is important to act now, or risk jeopardizing the future by failing to protect and nurture Liberia’s children and youth.
The primary focus must be on prevention. Prevention must address negative social norms and elements of toxic masculinity that affect both women and men and create power imbalances to be exploited. This is hard work and requires the collective effort of every level of society, from President Weah and his government to civil society, traditional leaders, youth groups, faith-based organisations, and community members.
Ending impunity is key. Police, judicial and health systems that are seen to be functional, accountable, and impartial will increase faith and trust in society and encourage survivors to come forward. Timely redress of cases will end the belief that perpetrators can and will escape accountability for their crimes. We therefore urge all stakeholders to make all efforts to end gender-based violence and we strongly encourage the Government of Liberia to act on the following:
We must act now. We must act together. We must end gender-based violence.
H.E. Neil Bradley, Ambassador, Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
H.E. Laurent Delahousse, Ambassador, Delegation of the European Union to Liberia
H.E. Jakob Haselhuber, Ambassador, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
H.E. Michael A. McCarthy, Ambassador, Embassy of the United States of America
Ms. Kate O’Donnell, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Ireland
H.E. Michaël Roux, Ambassador, Embassy of France
H.E. Urban Sjöström, Ambassador, Embassy of Sweden
Mr. Nathaniel B. Walker, Chargé d'Affaires/Ag. Resident Representative, ECOWAS Commission