The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has finished the construction of a large new safe house for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The building is situated in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. The safe house will treat victims from all over the country, providing counseling, education, vocational training, and HIV/AIDS awareness. The Operations of the house have been handed over to THINK (Touching Humanity in Need of Kindness), a local non-profit in Liberia, where years of past civil conflict created a breeding ground for sexual violence against women and children.
Ellen Margrethe Løj, head coordinator of UNMIL says that Liberia’s growth and economic advancement as a nation will not be possible without ending sexual violence. Løj acknowledges the profound negative impact sexual violence has on the lives of victims, often preventing them from leading a normal, productive life and contributing to society.
The Executive director of THINK, Rosanna Schaak, said, “When women or children experience sexual and gender-based violence, they are blamed and stigmatized for what has happened to them. Despite this discouraging trend, she says, “[THINK’s] commitment is steadfast. We will continue to serve the Liberian women and children.”
By providing victims with tools they need to succeed, such as the ability to read, UNMIL hopes to help put them—and, in turn, the country—on the path towards success.
The new home is a hopeful reminder of the strong link between reducing violence against women and reducing poverty. It is also a testament to the importance of investing in local organizations, like THINK, to help solve the problems their communities face. To learn more about how we can shape U.S. foreign aid policy in order to stop violence against women and help victims heal, please visit Women Thrive Worldwide or take a moment to sign the petition to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA).
Quotes from UNMIL
Photo courtesy of Women Thrive Worldwide