-- Calls on President Weah for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court
As rape cases become alarming, a human rights group, Justice Forum Liberia (JFL), has announced a one-day solidarity marched in honor of all rape victims after a series of high-profile rape cases sparked an outcry in the country.
The march, which is slated for Thursday, August 27th, 2020, is intended to immediately call the attention of President Weah and his administration to take concrete actions against those that are violating the rights of women and girls, especially underage girls.
Maxson S. Kpakio, founder and chief executive director of JFL, told reporters recently in Monrovia, that the issues of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence have become widespread in Liberia.
He said, "JFL is also concerned about the issue of rape and the low concern given to it by stakeholders including the government through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, as well as the Ministry of Justice."
It can be recalled that, between January and July 2020, there have been a total of 450 incidents of statutory rape, 100 cases of rape, 55 cases of gang-related rape, and ten cases involving sodomy.
According to reports from various counties, Montserrado recorded 288 cases of rape and domestic abuse, Nimba 56, Bong 36, Magibi 76, Grand Bassa 26, Bomi 15, Cape Mount 13, among others.
"Our young women and girls are raped across Liberia," he said. "JFL is taking a new dimension especially in this COVID-19 time. Ladies are being raped and abused in all sorts of manner and we say that these acts of gender violence must stop. The impunity must stop."
"We must promote zero tolerance to all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse including gender-based violence. We are worried that, at a time when the pandemic is ravaging the world that we are having another pandemic [within a] pandemic. This has left our women and girls feeling very unsafe.
"This is a very disruptive time when people are no longer feeling safe in their homes, neither are they feeling safe on the streets. Women are abused at domestic level and in public places. Incest and defilement of young girls is on the increase and the practice of blaming the very victim prevents even adult women from talking about this," Kpakio added.
According to him, the pending march is not really about JFL, but for Liberian children, women and their future, and JFL will continue to advocate for those affected through rape and other forms of violence.
Mr. Kpakio said rape cases continue to be alarming because the President has not come up publicly to condemn it and to also announce some actions that needed to be taken.
"We are calling our President's [attention to] the alarming rape issue within his administration," Mr. Kpakio said.
Kpakio also told reporters that a petition statement would be served to various Human Rights organizations, including the government of the Republic of Liberia through the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers; Gender Minister Piso Saydee-Tarr, and the Liberia National Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, calling for their swift intervention in the matter.
At the same time, Mr. Kpakio used the occasion to call on President George Weah to pay heed to the calls of Liberians for the establishment of a tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of war and economic crimes.