Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-p2v8j Total loading time: 0.001 Render date: 2024-05-25T01:41:01.524Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Women and Postconflict Security: A Study of Police Response to Domestic Violence in Liberia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2015

Peace A. Medie*
University of Ghana


Domestic violence or Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the form of violence against women (VAW) that is most reported to the police in Liberia. This violence cuts across class, ethnic, religious, and age lines (Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, et al. 2008) and results in psychological trauma, physical injuries, and, in some cases, death. Societal beliefs that frame domestic violence as a regular part of life serve to legitimize and foster the problem in Liberia (Allen and Devitt 2012; LISGIS et al. 2008) and pose a challenge to the state and to international organizations (IOs) and women's nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have introduced measures to combat domestic violence since the end of the country's 14-year civil war in 2003. One such effort is the Women and Children Protection Section (WACPS) of the Liberian National Police (LNP), established by the government in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other international partners in 2005. Although the section was established primarily to address rape, its officers are mandated to investigate all forms of VAW, including domestic violence.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2015 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Aboagye, Festus B., and Rupiya, Martin R.. 2005. “Enhancing Post-Conflict Democratic Governance through Effective Security Sector Reform in Liberia. In A Tortuous Road to Peace: The Dynamics of Regional, UN and International Humanitarian Interventions in Liberia, ed. Aboagye, Festus B. and Bah, Alhaji Mohamed Sirjoh, eds.. Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 249–80.Google Scholar
Women, African and Group, Peace Support. 2004. Liberian Women Fighting for the Right to be Seen, Heard and Counted. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.Google Scholar
Allen, Mary, and Devitt, Catherine. 2012. “Intimate Partner Violence and Belief Systems in Liberia.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence 27 (17): 3514–31. doi: 10.1177/0886260512445382.Google Scholar
Annan, Jeannie, and Brier, Moriah. 2010. “The Risk of Return: Intimate Partner Violence in Northern Uganda's Armed Conflict.” Social Science & Medicine 70: 152–59.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bacon, Laura M. 2012. “Building an Inclusive, Responsive National Police Force: Building Sensitive Reform in Liberia, 2005–2011.” Innovations for Successful Societies, Princeton University.Google Scholar
Bernstein, Eric, Scully, Pamela, Gbaintor-Johnson, Kou, and Stephenson, Rob. 2013. “Intimate Partner Violence and Civic Education in Liberia.” Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 8 (3): 6974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brenner, Hannah. 2013. “Transcending the Criminal Law's ‘One Size Fits All’ Response to Domestic Violence.” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 19 (2): 201351.Google Scholar
Dawson, Myrna, and Hotton, Tina. 2014. “Police Charging Practices for Incidents of Intimate Partner Violence in Canada.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 51 (5): 655–83. doi: 10.1177/0022427814523787.Google Scholar
Dichter, Melissa E., Marcus, Steven C., Morabito, Melissa S., and Rhodes, Karin V.. 2011. “Explaining the IPV Arrest Decision: Incident, Agency, and Community Factors.” Criminal Justice Review 36 (1): 2239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gibbs, James Lowell. 1960. Some Judicial Implications of Marital Instability among the Kpelle . Ph.D. diss. Harvard University.Google Scholar
Goodmark, Leigh. 2009. “Autonomy Feminism: An Anti-Essentialist Critique of Mandatory Interventions in Domestic Violence Cases.” Florida State University Law Journal 37 (1): 148.Google Scholar
Hirschel, David D., and Hutchison, Ira W. III. 1992. “Female Spouse Abuse and the Police Response: The Charlotte, North Carolina Experiment.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 83 (1): 73119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Horn, Rebecca, Puffer, Eve S., Roesch, Elisabeth, and Lehmann, Heidi. 2014. “Women's Perceptions of Effects of War on Intimate Partner Violence and Gender Roles in Two Post-Conflict West African Countries: Consequences and Unexpected Opportunities.” Conflict and Health 8 (12): 114.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2013. No Money, No Justice: Police Corruption and Abuse in Liberia. New York: HRW.Google Scholar
Isser, Deborah, Lubkemann, Stephen C., and N'Tow, Saah. 2009. Looking for Justice: Liberian Experiences with and Perceptions of Local Justice Options. Washington, D.C.:The United States Institute of Peace. (accessed February 1, 2014).Google Scholar
Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS). 2011. Report on the Liberia Labour Force Survey. 2010. (accessed February 1, 2014).Google Scholar
LISGIS, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, National AIDS Control Program, and Macro International Inc. 2008. Liberia Demographic and Health Survey 2007. Monrovia, Liberia: LISGIS and Macro International Inc.Google Scholar
Manjoo, Rashida and McRaith, Calleigh. 2011. “Gender-Based Violence and Justice in Conflict and Post-Conflict Areas.” Cornell International Law Journal 44 (11): 1131.Google Scholar
McAllister, Agnes. 1896. A Lone Woman in Africa: Six Years on the Kru Coast. New York: Eaton & Mains.Google Scholar
McWilliams, Monica, and Aoláin, Fionnuala Ní. 2013. “'There is a War Going on You Know’: Addressing the Complexity of Violence Against Women in Conflicted and Post Conflict Societies.” Transitional Justice Review 1 (2): 444.Google Scholar
Medie, Peace A. 2012. Police Behavior in Post-Conflict States: Explaining Variation in Responses to Domestic Violence, Internal Human Trafficking, and Rape. Unpublished dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.Google Scholar
Medie, Peace A. 2013. “Fighting Gender-Based Violence: The Women's Movement and the Enforcement of Rape Law in Liberia.” African Affairs 112 (448): 377397.Google Scholar
Okello, Moses Chrispus, and Hovil, Lucy. 2007. “Confronting the Reality of Gender-Based Violence in Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 1 (3):433–43.Google Scholar
Schwab, George. 1947. Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland: Report of the Peabody Museum Expedition to Liberia. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum.Google Scholar
Sibley, James L., and Westermann, Diedrich. 1928. Liberia-Old and New: A Study of its Social and Economic Background with Possibilities of Development. London: James Clarke.Google Scholar
United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women. 2009. Women, Peace and Security in Liberia: Supporting the Implementation of Resolution 1325 in Liberia. Santa Domingo: Institute for the Advancement of Women.Google Scholar
Vinck, Patrick, and Pham, Phuong N.. 2013. “Association of Exposure to Intimate-Partner Physical Violence and Potentially Traumatic War-Related Events with Mental Health in Liberia.” Social Science & Medicine 77 (1):449.Google Scholar
Women and Children Protection Section. 2010. Training Manual on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse. Monrovia, Liberia: Women and Children Protection Section.Google Scholar