Liberia: Sister Aid Liberia Condemns Police Use of Force On Peace Protesters Against the Rape Pandemic

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 — Sister Aid Liberia (SALI), a women-based National Non-Governmental Organizations vehemently condemns the Liberian Government use of lethal force against peaceful protesters who have gathered to beseech the government to address the sparring number of gruesome cases of rape against women, especially girls and babies in Liberia. The ongoing peaceful protest by Liberian women and men alike who are demanding that the Government fix the country's judicial and political systems so that women and girls are protected from sexual and all forms of violence is guaranteed by Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution and by various international instruments.

It is evident that running parallel with the Coronavirus crisis has been the Rape Pandemic. The existing overwhelming and telling statistics of cases of rape fanning across Liberia tower this fact. Recently, when COVID-19 reached its peak at 1,216 active cases early August 2020 and recessed to less than 400 cases with more than 700 recoveries, the Rape Pandemic suddenly surged astronomically to a similar height thus preventing women, girls, and babies from returning to normal life unlike the rest of the country. An enumeration of a few telling statistics demonstrates this point. For example, just in two months (June and July), in Grand Cape Mount County alone, an eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 19-year old boy; a 15-year old girl was also raped in Mobayer Town and another 14-year-old girl was raped in Bagama Town, Tewor District; and on Agust 4th, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped in Singe Town.

Additionally, in Gbarpolu County, a 15-year-old boy admitted raping a 3-year-old girl using a razor blade to cut her private part to enable him to penetrate. Similarly, in Montserrado County, a 10-year-old girl was raped and sodomized by a 32-year old man, Moses Tarnue. The survivor took several stitches, was undergoing treatment, wearing pampers and her anus could not hold any longer. Added to this are the alleged rape cases of a 17-year-old girl by an Officer of the Liberian National Police, Emmanuel Wesley, who was disrobed but is currently on the run; the rape of a 15-year-old-girl by a pastor in Bong County on June 6, 2020, just to name a few. Meanwhile, attending this pervasive Rape Pandemic are ongoing cases of other forms of violence against women and girls. For example, in Margibi County, a 26-year old man, Darius Bondo murdered his 30-year ex-girlfriend, burnt her home, and committed suicide after accusing her of an extra-sexual relationship in Kissi Camp Village, Borlola Township, Margibi County. Indeed, rape has become a Social Pandemic in Liberia.

Meanwhile, we appreciate all meaningful Liberians, including politicians and partisans of various political parties as well as our male counter and religious leaders for participating in this ongoing campaign. Notwithstanding, we observe with dismay the political poaching and encroaching on this meaningful campaign process, something that is evidently introducing an unintended political slant to our campaign, making it politically fraught, rhetorically jabbing, and tension-filled. We detest this! Similarly, we denounce the uncivil outburst of emotions of a female who reportedly slapped a male and we also condemn reported bullying by the police force, one of whom was said to have engaged in a victim-blaming and defensive argument with protesters, justifying that women are being raped because of the way they dress, something that is logically contradictory, considering the number of babies currently bleeding in blood as a result of rape. At any rate, we insist that those nominal political side-events give no ground for police brutality and a few instances of uncivil outbursts of protesters do not in any way discount the meaningfulness of our campaign against this Rape Pandemic.

There is overwhelming consensus by all Liberians that incidents of rape in Liberia have reached crisis proportion and actions are urgently needed to curb this menace. Already, many have crowded in this cause, including the Independence Day Orator, Rev. Dr. Simeon Dunbar and the Major General Prince C. Johnson, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of Liberia, both of whom went too far to propose the meting out of the death penalty against convicted rapists, something we object to. But the message is clarion clear. Rape is a pandemic and deliberate actions must be taken now by the Liberian Government to curb this menace. Not the reverse. Therefore, SALI condemns the use of force by the Liberian National Police and we join others to demand that the political and judicial system be fixed now so women's rights are not continuously violated, their dignity ravished, and future dismantled by rapists. We insist: Enough is Enough!

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