Today, I’ve come once more, joining the women of Liberia and advocates against Gender-based violence, to call the attention of the Government of Liberia to the very alarming increase in the rate of sexual gender-based violence. In 2021 alone, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection reported 1,637 (One Thousand Six Hundred Thirty-Seven) cases. Of this number, 56% were reports of 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!
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. Despite all of these pronouncements and policy documents, rape continues to increase while perpetrators go with impunity. This is therefore a call for this government to take charge and be intentional and truthful about its declaration of Rape as a National Emergency. This government took oath to protect its citizens and that includes our women and children.
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.
In addition to rallying other men to join me and those who are already in the fight against gender-based violence, I want to reiterate some of the suggestions that are continuously proffered by our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters every day:
1) Set protocols and follow them meticulously as is done with all national public health emergencies
2) Increase budgetary allocations to the Women & Child Protection Unit of the Liberia National Police in order to increase its capacity
3) Adequately fund the SGBV Unit, at the Ministry of Justice, to enable it to respond and win sexual gender-based violence cases.
4) Ensure that safe homes across the country that respond to survivors are functional and supported
5) Increase the number of Judges in the Circuit Court E
6) Educate our women and families on the danger of rape to the victims’ future.
In previous communications, I have said, over and again, that the people of Liberia ought to rise up and demand that justice be done. It is unjust for our babies as young as three and two years old, our girls, our women and young boys to go through these kinds of traumatic experiences when we have the capability to stop what is happening.
In conclusion, I call on the judiciary 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.
May God give us leadership that will Protect Our women and Children!
I Thank you.
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