President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on the justice system to take drastic action against rapists in the country.
Delivering her State of the Nation address on Monday, she stated that the inhumanity of rape is still being perpetrated.
The victims of rape, she said, included young girls, boys, and babies.
“This wickedness must be brought to an end. We implore the justice system to move fast in punishing those who commit these heinous crimes, whoever they are.
“This will not be tolerated from citizens or from foreigners who abuse the privilege of living in our country,” she said.
President Sirleaf urged the National Legislature to pass the Gender Equity Bill.
According to President Sirleaf, the passage of the Gender Equity Bill, proposed by the Women’s Legislative Caucus, will protect the rights of women in the country.
She urged members of the 53rd Legislature to give consideration to the budgetary implications to enable women to participate and be protected.
“As a mother and a female leader, the record is clear on my response to the issues of women and children, particularly in support of their economic participation, their participation in governance, and their protection from violence,” she said.
She explained that the Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (EPAG) has trained an additional 1,000, which adds to the 3,400 young girls already trained.
She mentioned the new innovation that trains women to become operators of motorcycles (Pink Panther) and vehicles (Women behind Wheels).
She said that much is being done to educate girls and to promote literacy among market women, adding that enrollment of girls in schools is now almost equal to boys, but more must be done to empower them.
“We cannot develop this country if we fail to fully use all its human resources. In truth, we cannot progress without the active, enlightened participation of both genders.
“We must enact laws that protect our girls and women. I have thus submitted the Domestic Violence Act, which I trust you will soon enact into law,” she added.
Meanwhile at a recent 16 Days of Activism celebration in Liberia, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Ducan Cassell said 1,088 gender based violence cases were reported between January and September 2015.
She said in 2014, 720 cases were reported as rapes with 657 victims being under the age of 18 and five between the ages of 5-14 years. Out of 1,088 GBV cases, she said 588 were rape cases, with 239 being children below 16.
Minister Duncan added that seven of the victims who were below the age of 14 died as a result, adding that two adults also died from rape.
“Of the 1,088 perpetrators, only 344 were arrested and 210 have been indicted, while 21 have been convicted and are serving their prison terms. 17 cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence,” she said.
She said Montserrado County accounts for the highest reported rape cases while Rivercess County accounts for the lowest reported cases of rape.