By Grace Q. Bryant
medica Liberia has concluded a one-day validation on its Sexual Exploitation & Abuse (SEA) Policy review guidelines for schools across the country.
The program which was held yesterday in Monrovia brought together school administrators, members of Parents, Teachers Associations, students, NGOs and key ministries including the Ministries of Health as well as the Gender, Children and Social Protection.
Speaking on the theme; ‘Operationalizing National Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policies in Schools,’ the Advocacy Officer of medica Liberia, Yah Parwon, explained that the purpose of meeting is to review and validate draft sexual exploitation and abuse guidelines developed for use in grade schools for the prevention and management of SEA.
Madam Parwon added that the feedbacks solicited from key stakeholders on the feasibility of adopting the guidelines as a national document are for the benefit of all students in Liberia.
She noted that over a long time they have been working with schools in the Southeast as well as in Montserrado and Margibi Counties which have experienced high sexual exploitation and abuses.
Madam Parwon defined SEA to be issues like sex for grades or other arrangements occurring in the schools’ environment that do not protect students especially women and girls.
According to her, medica Liberia has worked with 12 schools in the counties initiating policies that protect females against SEA in Liberia.
She added that the process has been participatory because there were consultations with schools so that they too understand that those policies needed to be put in place in order to protect students.
She expressed that the students and their parents were able to give feedbacks from which the guidelines were drafted and developed into what is now called the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Guidelines.
Madam Parwon narrated that the guidelines are expected to be used in various schools across the country and will set up a system for SEA report; where a female experiencing SEA will go freely to report and get help as well as prevent it from happening in schools.
However, the Country Director of medica Liberia, Caroline Bowah maintained that SEA is a historical and consistent problem that students faced in the past and even up to present.
Director Bowah added that it is important to look at SEA in a more systematic approach to see how the policies will be applied in those places, adding that the process that has been put together from the views of those who have been affected.
Madam Bowah noted that the reason for having a single document is a result of having conformity, persistency and familiarity in its approach in every school in the country.
Meanwhile, the Research Officer of the Sexual and Gender Based Violence Unit at the Gender Ministry, Lovette Sie, deputizing for the Deputy Minister of Gender, said SEA is something everyone in the country needs to be mindful of especially in schools and at work places.
She maintained that there will be no essence for children being in school once SEA exists in schools because of there will be lack of security and encouraged others to join medica Liberia with open minds in strengthening the SEA guideline which will ensure that children are safe and would be perpetrators will know that there are deterrents to keep them away from abusing children.
The Assistant Director of Gender Ministry, Wandaneh Lymus, added, “One thing I have experienced is that we are good at making policies for women and girls’ protection but our biggest problem is the implementation of said policies.”
Director Lymus expressed appreciation to see more school administrators, teachers and students in attendance, adding that SEA is an age old problem especially in the schools.
“If the space in schools is not safe, there will be no gender equality therefore, girls will not compete with their male counterparts,” she maintained.
medica Liberia formerly medica Mondiale, founded 2006, is a women’s rights organization working with affected women and girls in Liberia which believes that media practitioners have not done well in fast-tracking SGBV cases in Liberia and as such, the group sees it necessary to work with the journalists in making sure that cases of such are followed.
medica Liberia is a National NGO, women’s center organization that is working in four of Liberia’s 15 counties and it works mainly on issues affecting women and how they can be eradicated.
medica Liberia works in Monsterrado, Margibi, Sinoe, and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
medica Liberia Validates SEA Guidelines For Schools
By Grace Q. Bryant
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