With funding from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights through the European Union spotlight initiative, Liberia NGOs Network (LINNK) has completed its awareness program on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well as other human rights abuses in four of five counties of its selected targetted area in the country.
The selected counties are Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Nimba, and Montserrado Counties are the five counties with Grand Gedeh remaining.
The activities, which started in Montserrado County with a training of trainers workshop, brought together several stakeholders including LINNK members to provide broader knowledge to facilitators from the targeted counties to interact with their local leaders through a dialogue meeting between the police and the traditional people.
The meeting was also aims at finding common ground between the police and tradition leaders on how traditional leaders should go about doing traditional activities in terms of FGM and on the police affecting their duty.
During the dialogue, several concerns were raised including a conflict arising between the traditionalists and police over the way traditionalists go about conducting bush school and impact of FGM on the girl children, and untimely opening for the bush that sometimes interfered with the academy school calendar.
However, traditional leaders said, at times when police officers are carrying on their duties, they do things against traditional practices, and something they said is an abomination to the tradition of the country.
Through the dialogue, recommendations from traditionalists and the police on issues surrounding SGVB and FGM as well as other violent acts against women, children, and girls and how they should work together.
Other issues discussed during the dialogue by participants and facilitators including stakeholders in the counties range from rape, sexual abuse, FGM early marriage/teenage pregnancy, and child abuse, among others.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with reporters, the national chairman of the Liberian NGOs Network LINNK, Stephen Norman lauded the partners for making funding available for his organization to on the initiative; adding that the UN/EU Spotlight Initiative thou it has been implemented by other groups in the country, but for LINNK this was the first time to get financial support and sponsorship from the United Nations Commission for Human Rights in Liberia to carry on EU Spotlight Initiative.
According to Norman, “the development partners (UN/EU) are concern about the growing wave of violent acts against women and girls and other related sexual abuse in the country; this is why they have made funding available for us to reach these counties to work with local authorities, traditional leaders and the police in finding a solution to the issues of SGBV, FGM, and human rights violence melted against victims and the community”
Speaking further LINNK Boss, Norman asserted that of the five counties captured in the implementation of the EU-Spotlight Initiative by LINNK, it remains with Grand Gedeh County while Montserrado County is ongoing and expected to climax very soon.
Norman at the same time disclosed that after the county’s dialogues meeting with traditional leaders and the police, with stakeholders, there will be a signing ceremony of the solution, in support of the Domestic Violence Act law.