It has now become officially pronounced that most of the rape cases in the country, especially against teenagers and children are perpetrated by people who call themselves teachers. Others, according to Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan-Cassell, are people who the victims personally know within their communities.
The Liberian Government has categorized this group of people, notably male teachers, “prime molesters of children in the country,” Min. Cassell said.
“These are the same people the children usually call fathers, uncles and big brothers in the homes and communities,” the Minister added.
But one thing she regretted is that the molesters, many of whom are convicted and jailed, will still surface in the classrooms and communities with many people unaware of what had actually happened and who these people are. “So this is now the time to name and shame these people in their own community. This will also help the communities to know who these people are. They are not just teachers, uncles, fathers or grandpas, but also rapists,” she stressed.
Minister Cassell spoke during a two-day Cabinet Retreat held on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s farm in Julijuah, Bomi County. She gave a status update on the new Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and Post-Ebola Executive Plan by her ministry.
The retreat was held on Tuesday and Wednesday. It brought together all Cabinet Members, Deputy and Assistant Ministers, Heads of State-owned Enterprises, Agencies, Commissions and Board Chairpersons, with government stressing the importance of restarting all projects that were suspended due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus epidemic.
The retreat was intended to align the Cabinet with Government’s priorities and develop an agenda to drive the Administration.
The Gender and Social Protection boss’ comments come as the crime of rape seems to be persistently on the rise in the country. She said her Ministry is embarking on an information strategy that would help victims get prompt medical attention. She also proposed several measures through which molesters should be brought to their knees.
Min. Cassell told President Sirleaf and others present at the retreat that with support from UNICEF and Save the Children, the Ministry is embarking on a program intended to coordinate information relating to rape and other crimes against women and children. She noted that the coordination is especially needed between the police, the Ministry, health facilities and the community.
“We have trained community people about how to report cases. The first place to report is the police. Once it is reported to the police, the police will inform us and then we will send social workers there. So the first information we get is from the police. When we get the information from the police, we send in social workers to handle the situation.
“Once these people have been charged, I think we can still name and shame them in the communities, but they come out of jail and go back and start teaching again. Most of the perpetrators are teachers, and people the victims know. I’m sorry if you are a teacher and you are out there, but most of the cases we have with the little children are teachers who sat the children on their laps.”
Minister Cassell noted that until the country can have more female teachers back in the classrooms, male teachers will continue to carry out these atrocious activities. The Minister also enumerated a several interventions being initiated by her Ministry at various boarding schools, including Ricks Institute, Bromley and others to ensure that girls are adequately protected.
President Sirleaf said that the rape situation in the country, especially involving little children, is very alarming and the government and its partners need to take the situation very seriously. She recommended that one of the means through which these molesters could be brought to their knees is by printing images on billboards on the streets.
“There should be big posters and billboards with the caption “Wanted for Rape” placed along all the streets of major cities and towns with the photographs and names of the perpetrators of the crime in the country. We have to do something; it is really bad and becoming very serious in our country,” the President lamented.
The Minister of Justice suggested that government establish a database for child molesters with their information such as names, photos and all other particulars that are tracked for monitoring. “This is done in other countries to monitor these kinds of people. Whenever they apply for jobs or wherever they go, people or employers will try to trace their records. With this, I think we will help minimize or eradicate this menace in our country,” suggested the Justice Minister.
The Liberian leader described this suggestion as very brilliant and said government would look at that critically. “I want to thank you, that is a constructive and very positive suggestion,” she responded.
A brutal rape case, which is now under a barrage of public condemnation, recently occurred in the country. On Sunday, January 18, in the Moulton Corner Community of Brewerville, a teenage girl was raped and brutally assaulted by a man she was able to identify before she died. The alleged perpetrator is one Musa Kanneh, a resident of the community. Officers of Liberia National Police (LNP) have also been implicated for denying passage through a checkpoint of the vehicle that was carrying the victim to a health facility for immediate treatment.
In another related development the government has announced that Defendant, Foday Kanneh, 39, has been found guilty of Statutory Rape of a 13 year old victim
According to a communication from the offices of the Solicitor General of Liberia, a petit juror sitting in the case Republic of Liberia V. Foday Kanneh, in Criminal Court E, at the Temple of Justice, on Tuesday January 20th brought down a unanimous guilty verdict against Kanneh. Final judgment and sentence, are however, expected to be announced next week.
Narrating how the incident occurred in her communication, the SG said the incident occurred in the Konneh Community, Senjeh District, Tubmanburg, Bomi County, on December 2nd, 2013, when the 13 year old victim was sent by her mother to take food to the wife of the Defendant, but his wife was not home.
“The Defendant asked the victim to take the food inside his bedroom but the victim refused to do so. While the victim was trying to leave, he whisked her, put his hand over her mouth, and forcibly pulled her into his children’s room, had sexual intercourse with her, gave her LD50.00, and told her that if she told anyone he would kill her.”
The victim went home and did not tell anyone for fear that the defendant would kill her. A few days after when the victim’s father went to use the restroom he realized that there was blood in the commode.
When he asked the mother of the victim she said she did not know how the blood got there. When her mother asked the victim, she broke down in tears and told her mother what the Defendant had done to her.
She was taken to the police station and then to the hospital where she was examined and it was confirmed that her hymen was broken and torn from the middle in many directions. The victim was treated for over two weeks because she continued to bleed.