By Joseph Tumbey; firstname.lastname@example.org; (+231)777941209
Liberia’s former Vice President and the Political Leader of the Unity Party has announced plans to closely work with women’s movement against gender-based violence and other civil society organizations to ensure the eradication of rape across the Country.
Addressing the Media at his residence in Monrovia on Thursday March 10, 2022, he called the attention of the Government of Liberia to the very alarming increase in the rate of sexual gender-based violence and said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection reported 1,637 in 2021.
According to him, 56% of the reported figure was sexual violence and 50% were child survivors with Montserrado County accounting for the majority.
“We were also informed that of the rape cases reported, indictments were drawn for 6.23% of the cases, 3.60% of the cases were tried and 3.12% of the perpetrators were convicted. These are just for the cases that have been recorded and reported.
Now imagine the actual number if all the ones that are handled “the family way” or not reported for fear of stigmatization or threats from the perpetrators were reported. Our women and children are indeed unprotected while the culture of impunity persists,” Mr. Boakai noted.
Meanwhile, the opposition Political Leader disclosed, in 2019, the Domestic Violence Act was signed into law; the President thereafter declared Rape a National Emergency and the National Road Map was carved in collaboration with civil society organizations. But despite all of the pronouncements and policy documents, rape continues to increase while perpetrators go with impunity.
Boakai maintains, as the government took oath to protect its citizens and that includes the women and children, it must take charge and be intentional and truthful about its declaration of Rape as a National Emergency.
“In the last few weeks, we have had many reports of rape, including cases of a 4- and 6-year-old- raped together in Gbarpolu, a three-year-old and 2 year 9 months old. We have sat and watched the future of these children being snatched right before us and we have done nothing. Rape is not only the women’s concern. Rape is all of us concern. In addition to what the government can do and has failed to do, the men of Liberia have to take a stand in solidarity with our women and children beginning today. I will also like to announce that The Joseph Nyuma Boakai Foundation will now add a new focus on making interventions and advocating for the protection of women and children against gender-based violence which will be coordinated by a committee I will set up. We will work closely with the women’s movement against gender-based violence and other civil society organizations to ensure this effort is impactful”, he emphasized.
However, he suggested the setting up of protocols and follow them meticulously as is done with all national public health emergencies; increase budgetary allocations to the Women & Child Protection Unit of the Liberia National Police in order to increase its capacity; adequately fund the SGBV Unit, at the Ministry of Justice, to enable it to respond and win sexual gender-based violence cases; ensure that safe homes across the country that respond to survivors are functional and supported and increase the number of Judges in the Circuit Courts and educate women and families on the danger of rape to the victims’ future as the ways to fight against gender-based violence.
He is also calling on the judicial branch of government to dispense justice without fear or favor and to consider the current wave of rape cases in Liberia a matter of extreme national emergency, fast track cases, and bring the perpetrators before the law.