Conflict in Liberia has led to displacement and insecure housing tenure for both men and women. However, men are traditionally the named individual on documents providing evidence of HLP rights, including deeds, leases and squatters’ certificates. This leaves women reliant on their relationships with men to claim HLP rights.
Liberia has high levels of gender-based violence and intimate partner violence against women. This can increase for women who are vulnerably housed or living in poor conditions. It is rare for communities to intervene in violent situations within relationships and women may struggle to leave an abusive partner as they have no rights to housing, land or property, and therefore nowhere to go. Both men and women are reluctant to seek legal help from the Government and this is viewed only as a last resort.
Many relationships that occur during conflict can be informal and so women cannot seek protection under formal law or customs that may be available to a married woman. Abandoned women and teenage girls are most at risk of abuse and precarious living situations. Some enter into transactional sex in return for housing as a form of protection.
Key recommendations include:
- Increasing support for women’s groups working to reduce violence
- Training community women
- Incorporating strategies into HLP programming which take notice of and seek to mitigate the risk of GBV
- Training both men and women in laws that protect their HLP rights and giving both legal and gender awareness training to implementers and enforcers of laws
- Amending laws so as to protect the HLP rights of women not named on ownership documents or those in informal relationships
- Supporting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms
- Considering options for making land rights more secure for families in informal settlements