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A few yards away from the home of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf—in the Fish Market Community—men, women and children gathered for a parade as part of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign. The atmosphere was mixed with excitement and grief as the campaigners marched during the rally, which can be recorded as the first massive anti-rape awareness campaign in Liberia. In the midst of the crowd, a group of young men and women carried 10 caskets as tribute to deceased child rape victims.

Between January and September 2013, ten out of approximately 1,300 children raped during that nine month period died as a result of that attack, and the survivors are left with emotional and psychological scars that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. These disturbing realities have drawn the attention of the Liberian Government, civil society, and international partners with women-led civil society organizations leading the crusade to demand that the government takes more concrete actions to prevent further rapes and provide justice when rapes occur.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence campaign is an annual event observed around the world from November 25th to December 10th to foster solidarity, engage leaders, and create public awareness on violence perpetrated against women.

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Recently at a two-day national dialogue organized by the Women of Liberia Peace network (WOLPNET), the Zoes (traditional people) of Liberia reached a number of resolutions including no forced initiation. They agreed that women who go to the Sande Society should reach the age of consent, 18, and should willingly go to be initiated. If these resolutions are passed into law by the National Legislature, it means the issue of child initiation or forced initiation will be eradicated.

This report was compiled by the writer with support from Womankind Worldwide, under the “Empowering Media for Inclusive Governance” Project implemented in Liberia by LIWOMAC.

 

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Mission Statement LWDR is a non-profit radio for women operated by the Liberia Women Media Action Committee to educate, inform and entertain through programming that promotes the rights and concerns of women.

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