Women War Survivors of the 1989-2003 Conflict in Liberia: The Impact of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Citation:

Liebling-Kalifani, Helen, Victoria Mwaka, Ruth Ojiambo-Ochieng, Juliet Were-Oguttu, Eugene Kinyanda, Deddeh Kwekwe, Lindora Howard, and Cecilia Danuweli. 2011. "Women War Survivors of the 1989-2003 Conflict in Liberia: The Impact of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence." Journal of International Women's Studies 12 (1): 1-21.

Authors: Helen Liebling-Kalifani, Victoria Mwaka, Ruth Ojiambo-Ochieng, Juliet Were-Oguttu, Eugene Kinyanda, Deddeh Kwekwe, Lindora Howard, Cecilia Danuweli

Abstract:

This article presents a summary of the qualitative data from research carried out in post-conflict Liberia by Isis-WICCE, a women's international non-government organisation, in conjunction with the Ministry of Gender and Development of Liberia and Women in Peace-building Network, WIPNET. Analysis of research findings detail women's experiences of conflict and the serious effects of sexual violence and torture on their physical and psychological health. The paper also describes the omission of women from justice and rehabilitation processes. In support of women participants' views, the author's recommend that funding is urgently required for the provision of holistic and sustainable, gender- sensitive services. Additional recommendations are made with respect to health, justice and policy changes in line with enhancing women survivor's roles and utilising their skills and resilience.

Annotation:

Quotes:

"The rates of sexual violence were higher amongst former combatants; 42.3%, amongst women combatants and 32.6% amongst male combatants." (9)

"The most visited health facility for psychological problems and surgical problems related to war were the private run clinics. However, significant numbers utilised self medication, traditional healers, local health centres and district hospitals. A tenth of the participants had not sought any treatment at all for their psychological problems. Participants described government health facilities as not having the necessary professional expertise to handle the psychosocial consequences of war as well as the emerging epidemic of domestic violence." (11-12)

"It was also observed that the DDRR largely failed to meet a large number of women's and girls' needs compared to men's and boys'. Thousands of women and girls formally associated with the fighting forces did not participate in the DDRR for reasons such as misinformation, lack of knowledge and understanding about the process, manipulation by commanders, lack of funding, lack of political will to ensure a gender-based approach, shame and fear. Some of the women that did participate were said to have been harassed by UN designated officials during the disarmament phase, including being ridiculed or hit whilst trying to disarm. Amnesty International (2008a) reported that some women did not benefit unless they were prepared to have sex with their commander. The programme failed to meet the needs of many women and girl combatants and did not ensure that their participation was proportional to their actual level of involvement. Many women were said to have failed to fully benefit from the rehabilitation and reintegration phase because the programme largely failed to acknowledge and address stigma and shame as a barrier to their participation, as well as taking into account adequate understandings of women's and girl's war experiences (Amnesty International, 2008a)." (14)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Health, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, International Organizations, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women, Torture, Sexual Torture Regions: Africa, West Africa Countries: Liberia

Year: 2011

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