Saturday, October 31, 2009

Liberia: Tackling Violance Against Women

From Radio Nederland Wereldomroep:
The Liberian Minister for Gender and Development, Vabah Gayflor, visited a safe house for abused women in The Netherlands earlier this week. She wanted to learn how Dutch authorities deal with domestic violence. In Africa, Liberia is ahead in the fight against domestic violence. However, after many years of civil war, the issue continues to be a problem.

Liberia also has shelters for women who get frequently beaten by their partners, said Vabah Gayflor. But they are less well equipped and the staff is less professional compared to those in the Netherlands. The principle is the same: women enjoy special protection, they recover from their difficulties and get support in finding a solution to their problems.

Liberia experienced a bloody civil war for 14 years which ended in 2003. During the war, violence against women bacame an epidemic. Violence against women is less but has not disappeared.

The level of violence remains high. Many teenagers continue to be violated, as in any country emerging from war. The perpetrators tend to be former soldiers and rebels and some of them now occupy important positions.

The big difference between Liberia and the Netherlands represents the type of violence against women. In the Netherlands, it is mostly domestic violence, while in Liberia the sexual violence against women is a major problem. Especially on the street and at work. Furthermore rape is the crime most frequently reported in Monrovia, the counrty's capital.

But Liberia is also the first African country to be headed by a democratically elected woman. The Liberian Minister for Gender and Development is clearly proud that during the presidential election the votes of women made the difference.

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