From Where I Stand: “We need men who will stand up for the rights of women and girls”

Date: Monday, June 18, 2018

E. Wilkins Nah is one of 15 public prosecutors at the front-lines of the fight against sexual and gender-based violence in post-conflict Liberia. By combining his legal experience with knowledge on survivor-centered response, he is working to end impunity and ensure justice for survivors.

Liberia: From where we stand
Wilkins Nah, County Attorney of Bong County in Central Liberia. Photo: UN Women/Winston Daryoue

“When I took over as County Attorney (Prosecutor) in Bong County, I had no understanding of how to deal with cases of rape or other cases on violence against women because I had never been trained in this area.

I only knew how to deal with the legal aspects of a case, and didn’t consider the special needs of a survivor, like medical and psycho-social support or confidentiality. It was only after I received the training sessions through UN Women that I became aware of the ethical principles of dealing with cases of violence against women. Today, when I receive these cases, my first concern is to ensure a proper referral pathway for the survivor—first, does she have access to a health facility, is she receiving proper service at the police station, does she have a psychosocial counselor, and finally, the legal proceedings in the court.

From my experience of prosecuting sexual and gender-based violence cases, the root cause of this violence is cultural norms. Women are inferior before men and are considered to be subjects under men’s authority. The level of awareness of the rights of women and girls is very low, especially in rural communities.

I think when someone is not directly involved in dealing with these cases, they tend to underestimate the magnitude of the problem. Violence against women and girls, especially rape is a problem that is destroying the social fabric especially when most survivors are children. More work needs to be done to curb violence acts against women and girls. We must all work together because tomorrow it could hit close to home. No one is safe!

We need a mass movement led by men in raising awareness of the effects of these acts of violence. We need men who will stand up for the rights of women and girls.”

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sdgs   sdg 16

E. Wilkins Nah, 43, is among nearly 173 individuals in central Liberia, including police officers, prosecutors, health and social workers, who have been trained in the provision of rapid and coordinated medical, counselling and prosecutorial services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence through the Joint Programme on Sexual Gender-based Violence and Harmful Traditional Practices. The programme is being implemented in collaboration with UN Women, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UNHCR and Liberian ministries, and funded by the Government of Sweden. Through his work, Nah is contributing towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on Gender Equality and its target on ending violence against women, as well as SDG 16, which promotes peace and justice.