Creating avenues that will allow rape victims to be able to report cases of abuse to the authorities is a top priority for the Ministry of Gender and Development and its partners.
Since January 2015, more than six cases of rape and sexual abuse have been reported to the Ministry of Gender and Development. In some cases, victims were murdered by strangulation and other forms of violence.
The heated question lurking in every corner of Liberia is: why is rape still a major problem in Liberia? According to the Minister of Gender and Development, Julia Duncan-Cassell, the fear many victims have when it comes to reporting rape cases, silences the fact that it’s happening.
“There are many women being abused, but we only hear about the children. We’re not hearing about it because they are afraid of stigmatization. They’re afraid that nothing will come out of it. Because of that, the women are not coming out to say they have been abused. Ninty-eight percent of rape cases are children, but there are a lot more out there,” Minister Cassell added.
“This year there have already been more than two cases in Brewerville; and there were two other cases as well in Nimba and Bong,” she disclosed.
The Media and Its Role
The media has been called on to help get the word out that rape is happening and apart from authorities, there are now people being assigned to help fight this crime as well.
Said the Minister, “we ask all the media to join us in this fight. This is not just about the Ministry or women; it’s about the society. Something has to be done and we are open for suggestions, for ideas, so that collectively we can bring things under control.”
Meanwhile, awareness in the matter of women and their rights is a serious issue which needs to be looked into, and the Ministry is aware.
“We have our gender offices in all of the 15 counties and besides that we have set up a community-based organization called the Observatories. They are in different communities, headed by the local community residents,” the Minister disclosed.
“If something is to happen, they will be there to see to it. We’re hoping to work along with our partners UNFPA and government so that we may establish an observatories committee in all of the communities.These community members should be watchdogs,” she added.