Women’s rights in Liberia

04/03/2004
Report

From the historical out look of Liberia in the setting of Women rights, is a global phenomenon that cuts across geographical, cultural and political boundaries and varies only in its manifestations and severity. Gender Violence has existed from time immemorial and continues up to the present day.

It takes covert and overt forms, including physical and mental abuse. Violence against women, including female genital mutilation, wife burning, dowry-related violence, rape, incest, wife battering, female feticide and female infanticide, trafficking, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, summary ex-execution and prostitution, is a women violations and not only a moral issue but human rights violation according to the Geneva Conventions. Elimination Against Women, CRS, CEDAW, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Security Council Resolution and many other international instruments on women. It has serious negative implications on economic and social development of women and society, and is an expression of the societal gender subordination of women.

Liberia Watch for Human Rights who serve as watch dog in its press conferences condemned the violence against women in the society, Liberia being no exception; most of the practices reviewed so far constitute acts of violence against women or girl child by the state, security apparatus, families and the communities.

The form of harmful traditional practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia has been on the increase and continues to be in scandalous proportion based on societal practice or cultural believe by some ethnic groups in Liberia. Girl children under the ages of 5-18 yrs. are forced by their parents to go through female circumcision culturally called sande and Poro societies (Sande for Female and Poro for Male). Non-Sterilized blunt objects are used in this tradition ional practice.

Mostly in Liberia, parents use their girls children as bread winners for the families to up-keep their homes, the early marriage is another traditional way of giving girl children out to friends or religious family ageing between 12-15,thus resulting to teenage pregnancy in Liberia. This commonly practices among ethnic groups of Vai,Mende,Gbande and Mandingoes who are mainly Muslim.

Another human rights violations against women in Liberia is found in Liberia education system where girl children trade-off their bodies to the teachers in replacement of scoring grade marks. It is both prevalent from elementary schools and university colleges. Among other violations against women are rape, prostitution, female genital mutilation (FGM), and early marriage as mentioned.

Even though in Liberia statutory law women are permitted to go on maternity leave at a certain period of pregnancy, regrettably both private and public sectors disregards this right to women that of which are in existence as far back as many decades. Hitherto, nothing has been done to improve the women status in that direction.

In the fulfillment of democracy, consistence with the United Nations Chapter in regard to Gender Equality and every aspect of life women in Liberia are gradually ascending to the position of authority or leadership in Liberia like Ruth Sando Perry, former Chairman of the six men council, Gloria Musu Scott, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, and Francis Johnson-Morris, present National Election Commission (Commissioner).

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