Liberia: Human Rights Group Proposes the Establishment of Independent Nat'l Anti-Rape Commission

Hundreds of angry women from various women and youth groups of Liberia took to the streets of Monrovia in protest of the rape amendment bill recently by the Senate.

Monrovia — The Foundation for Human Rights Defense International (FORHD) Liberia is proposing the establishment of an Independent National Anti-Rape Commission.

In a release sent out by the rights group, FORHD's Executive Director Tee Wonokay said the proposed anti-rape commission must centrally focus on all issues concerning rape.

"This commission must have included in its terms of reference among other tasks, the organization of logistical, financial and human resources for the purpose of assisting rape victims in the legal process to ensure that perpetrators do not go with impunity," he said.

At the moment, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, which manages the affairs of rape, has its hands full with other very important, national tasks.

From January to July 2020, 992 rape cases were reported. Out of this number 36 were prosecuted and 22 convictions were handed down by the court.

FOHRD says as rape remains the second most reported, commonly perpetrated crime, especially against women and children, there is a need for urgent action on the part of the government.

The organization also calls on all women groups, civil society and religious organizations, traditional and community leaders to intensify their efforts in the fight against rape.

The human rights organization had also called on anti-rape protesters, who had gathered in Monrovia and other parts of the country last week, and also the government, to maintain the peace. During the three days of protesting, there were reports of rioting including stone throwing and a number of arrests were made by the police.

"FORHD urges everyone involved to steak to the objective of the protest and avoid any political undertone, which could undermine its true intend," the rights group further said.

With the rights of women and children being at the core of FOHRD's mission, it promised to continually work to ensure that there is continual support and justice for victims, punishment for perpetrators and protection against the act of rape.

FORHD acknowledges that poverty, corruption, logistical and financial constraints, as well as general institutional weakness constitute the main factors influencing widespread increase in the occurrence of this heinous crime.

"These influencing factors must be addressed immediately. Those charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law against rape must exercise this grave responsibility with diligence, dedication, and clean hands," FOHRD's Exe. Director Wonokay said.

According to the group, their recent research in the occurrence of rape in Liberia revealed that social pressure from communities to settle rape cases out of court, gender stereotyping, traditional interferences, and cultural attitudes are also key contributing factors in the commission of rape.

FOHRD, which works to promote equal rights and justice in Liberia, wants these contributing factors be tackled from a holistic standpoint through a synchronized institutional framework. FOHRD believes that the scourge of rape can be mitigated through this approach.

FORHD documents and publishes on cases of religious, political and other discriminations and demands freedom and justice for all.

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