Anti-Rape Commission for Liberia?

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Foundation for Human Rights Defense International (FOHRD) Executive Director Tee Wonokay

Human rights group proposes

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

In a release issued by the rights group, FOHRD’s Executive Director, Tee Wonokay, said the proposed anti-rape commission must centrally focus on all issues concerning rape.

“This commission must have 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 tasks and not showing much concern for rape cases as it has been accused by women including Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee.  On the other hand, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Williametta Saydee-Tarr, has reacted to the accusation that while she knows the scourge of rape is persistent in the society, she, however, does not see it unfair to go after her ministry or herself without substantial proofs.

From January to July 2020, 992 rape cases were reported. Out of this number 36 cases (3.6%) were prosecuted and 22 convictions (2.2%) 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.

However, FOHRD has admonished anti-rape protesters, who gathered in Monrovia and other parts of the country last week, as well as the government, to maintain the peace. During the three-day protest, there were reports of rioting including stone-throwing, and police brutality.

“FOHRD urges everyone involved to stick to the objective of the protest and avoid any political undertone, which could undermine its true intent,” 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 a widespread increase in 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,” Wonokay said.

According to the group, their recent research about 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 to the commission of rape.

FOHRD, which works to promote equal rights and justice in Liberia, wants these contributing factors to 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 cases of religious, and political discriminations and demands freedom and justice for all.

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