During a recent community meeting in the north-western Liberian town of Vahun, in Lofa County, International Alert has been able to ascertain the positive impact its project on human security and gender-based violence has had on the communities in this part of Liberia.
Community animators implementing Alert’s project reported during this meeting a resounding decrease in spouse beating and other forms of gender-based violence in their communities in recent times, following a training workshop held by International Alert Liberia in the central Liberian town of Gbarnga, in the Bong County.
Mid last year, Alert hosted a course for representatives from the judiciary as part of its regional project on human security that seeks to put in place community structures and empower key figures within the communities to challenge the culture of impunity for people who violate the human rights of women and girls by facilitating access to and promoting the use of redress mechanisms for victims of gender-based violence.
‘Right after the Gbarnga training, there has been great cooperation and collaboration between the community chiefs on the one hand and the law enforcement and judicial officers on the other hand,’ affirmed James Sao, Police Inspector of the Vahun District. ‘Prior to this training’, he continued, ‘our job used to be very tedious, as our roles as law enforcement and judicial officers respectively used to be usurped by the chiefs. But since our return from the Gbarnga workshop, the chiefs have now got accustomed to the idea of following the redress mechanisms available in the communities to address gender-based violence issues’.
Traditional leaders in the northern Liberian town of Vahun supported this statement and affirmed that many men in the community are now aware that spouse beating and other acts of gender-based violence are punishable by law.
The elders of the community said that the majority of men in the district intend to respect the laws now that awareness has been raised of the existence of redress mechanisms within the community. They pointed out that radio programmes on gender-based violence broadcasted on the Voice of Vahun community radio station have also helped in increasing awareness of the availability of redress mechanisms for victims of sexual violence within each community.