Paynesville — Little Rachel (not her real name) was unaware that the brutal danger of rape was lurking on the day she set on a journey to visit her guardian in Paynesville. She would later get allegedly gang raped by eight boys in the home of her guardian.
According to her mother, Racheal would often visit her guardian to spend the weekend. "I was getting ready to go to my guardian home for my daughter, but when I saw him coming, I waited and he said my daughter was raped in the house, but he was not at home," said the victim's mother
She said the police later arrested four boys and they were in jail at the Zone 8 Depot. But they were later released with the officer in charge of the depot's Women and Children Protection Section reportedly telling the victim's mother that "the boys were not guilty".
"I told the police that I did not understand the case, so I wanted the case forwarded to court but he said the case was transferred to Central, and the people who had the party at house were arrested," she said.
Susie T. Telleh of Women and Children Protection Section at the Liberian National Police said she is aware that the suspects are all juvenile.
Commenting on the ages of the perpetrators, Mr. Dickson N. Jlateh, Deputy for Women and Children Protection Section, said three of the perpetrators are 16 years while one is 15 years of age.
"The age for criminal responsibility is 16 years, so if a 15-year-old commits a crime, he or she is tried at the Juvenile Court and if the judge deems it necessary to forward the case to the circuit court he will do so, but for the police, they will send the case to court," Madam Telleh.
Recently, the police arrested a 15-year-old in Gbapolu County for raping and assaulting a three-year-old girl. The police would later discover that the alleged perpetrator was 17-year-old instead of 15.
Police spokesman Moses Carter said it is possible that someone can be 18 and reduced his/her age to 12, but at the LNP takes everything into consideration in getting the facts to establish the person's age.
"We go for birth certificate, and if you do not a have birth certificate, we visit your school and the hospitals you visited in the past to verify your age," he said
Former Immigration Boss and Police officer Mrs. Abla Williams said since the rape law is silent on perpetrators, who are less than 18, it can be challenged to find out the perpetrator's real age.
Speaking in Paynesville, after a Women's Peace Brigades training organized by Gbowee Peace Foundation and partners, Williams said the wave of rape and violence cases in the country was "saddening".
"I think either the men or boys have mental problems, which means after the war, our DDRR process did not work. A lot of people need medical care. But in the meantime, if perpetrators are found guilty, they should be prosecuted by surgical castration or given medication to not have an erection, but it should be done by the law. It is not the best way out, but it will serve as a deterrent. We cannot eradicate violence this way, but we can minimize it," she said
With the alarming number of rape incidents reported in recent weeks from across the country, women groups and child rights activists have been calling for tougher action against perpetrators.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at the VAMOMA House to march against rape and other forms sexual and gender-based violence.
Meanwhile, Rachel's mother said the victim was taken to Hope for Women hospital where she was treatment. She is being held in a safe home, she said.
"I want the government to help me fight for justice because I cannot see my child to see how she is doing and there is no head or tail to this case because the police are playing with the case," she said.