Integrated review of gbv programs for young survivors in liberia
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Integrated Review of GBV Programs for Young Survivors in Liberia _____________________________________________________________________. Debbie Landis CPC Network/PLG Liberia October 9, 2012. Background/Context: ______________________________________________________________________.

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Integrated review of gbv programs for young survivors in liberia

Integrated Review of GBV Programs for Young Survivors in Liberia_____________________________________________________________________

Debbie Landis

CPC Network/PLG Liberia

October 9, 2012

Background context


  • Sexual violence was systematic and widespread during the conflict

    • Ex. 2004 WHO assessment in IDP camps found almost 80% of women surveyed experienced sexual violence during war

  • Rates of rape and sexual assault continue to be high

  • The majority of reported cases are children (under 18)

    • In 2011, the average age of rape survivors was 16, and almost 50% of total cases between the ages of 5-14 (Source: MoGD)

National structure part i

National Structure- part I______________________________________________________________________

  • Rape Amendment Act of 2006

  • GBV National Action Plan & Joint UN/GoL SGBV Program:

    • 5 “pillars”:

      • 1) psychosocial

      • 2) health

      • 3) legal/justice

      • 4) protection

      • 5) coordination

  • GBV Taskforce

    • National and County Taskforces

  • GBV Unit and the Ministry of Gender and Development (MoGD)

National structure part ii

National Structure- part II______________________________________________________________________

  • Women and Children’s Protection Section (WACPS)

    • Specialized training on SGBV

    • HQ in Monrovia and other depots at the county level

  • SGBV Crimes Unit

    • In Monrovia; prosecution of cases as well as services to survivors

  • Criminal Court “E”

    • “in camera” hearings

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Referral Pathway

    • Adapted at the county level

Study overview

Study Overview:___________________________________________________________________

  • Timeframe:

    • May-August 2012

  • Location:

    • Monrovia, Liberia

  • Methods:

    • Key informant interviews (40 individuals)

    • Structured document review (279 documents)

    • Survivor Interviews (15 female survivors)

    • Observations of program activities

Research questions

Research Questions:_____________________________________________________________________

  • How is the formal system responding to the needs of children affected by sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)?

  • What promising practicesare evident in the prevention and response initiatives of key actors?

Criteria for promising practice

Criteria for “promising practice”:___________________________________________________________________

  • Evaluations demonstrating measureable change

  • Expert consensus

  • Survivor perceptions

Integrated review of gbv programs for young survivors in liberia

Criteria #1: Evaluations Demonstrating Measureable Change


Documents Submitted:

Program types in which measurable c hange was found

Program Types in which “Measurable Change” was found:________________________________________________________________

Criteria 2 expert consensus

Criteria #2: Expert Consensus____________________________________________________________________

Key Informant Current Areas of Programming:

Program area 1 training and sensitization

Program Area 1: Training and Sensitization_________________________________________________________________________________

  • 22 KIs reported involvement in community-based training; 13 in school-based training

  • Training and sensitization have increased rates of reporting (23 KIs)

  • Additional training is needed in order to address cultural perceptions that contribute to SGBV and to raise awareness of law (28 KIs)

"But now with this extensive education, information, communication--and dissemination of information and materials on rape, it's a gradual change. You can see the change because they will report it. It never used to be reported.”

~ Key Informant, local NGO

Program area 2 community based groups

Program Area 2: Community-based Groups _______________________________________________________________________________

  • 17 KIs reported supporting community-based groups (CWCs, women’s groups, children’s groups, men’s groups, etc.)

  • There is a need to work with local leaders and build up community-based protective structures (30 KIs)

  • Male engagement is an important strategy to addressing SGBV (13 KIs)

“That is an important lesson, that the availability of structures and the strengthening of structures at local level will enhance reductions [of violence] or enhance services provided to SGBV survivors.”

~ Key Informant, international NGO

Program area 3 direct support to survivors

Program Area 3: Direct Support to Survivors_______________________________________________________________________________

  • 12 KIs reported involvement in case management; 7 psychosocial support; 6 medical services; 6 legal services

  • Safe homes are a strong source of protection and psychosocial support (17 KIs)

  • The referral pathway is well-developed (28 KIs), although access to services is significantly greater in Monrovia (23 KIs)

  • WACPS is child-friendly and effective (22 KIs); SGBV Crimes Unit effective (18)

  • Family mediation and follow up with police/courts can increase access to justice (8 KIs)

“So as they [the survivor] go through this process--so it's just actually facilitating, counseling and making sure that the victim is cared for and the writing is done. And, also, the perpetrator is actually accountable..."

~ Key Informant, local NGO

Program area 4 empowerment and skill building

Program Area 4: Empowerment and Skill-building_______________________________________________________________________________

  • 11 KIs reported involvement in empowerment/skill-building activities (life skills, livelihoods, business development, literacy, etc.) for women and/or girls

  • Results reported included increase in participants going to school, starting businesses, etc.

  • Often integrated with SGBV sensitization

  • Described as both prevention and response initiatives

“And then even with these vocational programs, when you come together, your friend is there. You know, you are chatting and going on about the daily life and all-, in a vocational training area. It helps to minimize trauma…. And it lets you know that you're not the only person that has been victimized."

~ Key Informant, local NGO



  • “Compromising cases” (37 KIs):

    • Family/community and police/court levels

    • “harsh” penalty of rape law deemed a factor by some at community level

  • Cultural perceptions (22 KIs):

    • Only rape if survivor was a virgin

    • Acceptance of early marriage/early sexual activity

    • Acceptance of “sex for money/goods”

  • Inefficiencies with the justice system (21 KIs):

    • Insufficient evidence, long delays, cases dismissed on procedural grounds, juror qualifications, lack of “Criminal Court E” in counties, low prosecution rates, impunity, etc.

  • Limited access in rural areas (21 KIs):

    • Expressed with regard to all sectors (health, legal, police, psychosocial, etc.)

    • Transportation in rural areas a particular challenge

“The maximum penalty is life in prison. So people tell the girl, ‘You know this guy is going to be locked up for life. It’ll be a problem in the community. You don’t need to do that. Why should you do that.’ They look at it as something small. They don’t look at it as something which is damaging that person. They will tell you, ‘You are not the first. It has happened. Just move forward.’”

~Key Informant, international NGO

Criteria 3 survivor perceptions

Criteria 3: Survivor Perceptions_________________________________________________________________________

  • Interviews with 15 female survivors

  • Reported receiving:

    • Medical care

    • Psychosocial support

    • Access to police and court

  • Reported referrals to current services from WACPS or SGBV Crimes Unit

  • Reported satisfaction with current services

  • Limited finances/resource constraints reported as challenge (less staff, less activities, etc.)

“They help us feel good and forget about the past.”

~Female survivor, age 16

Discussion implications


  • Need for more rigorous evaluations to expand the evidence base

  • Training and sensitization have made an impact, but more work is needed

  • The legal framework is strong, but significant capacity building is needed in the justice sector

  • The referral pathway has put essential services in place, but access is limited in rural locations

  • Promoting community-based structures is essential for program success

  • Multi-sectorial programming is needed

  • Further development of “child-focused” guidelines

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