A human rights group, the Foundation for Human Rights Defense International (FOHRD) has attributed the increase in rape cases to the lack of structural systems within the country to ensure that they work in unison.
Livitti A.M. Togbah, a special guest who read FOHRD’s statement of intent said the establishment of an Independent National Anti-Rape Commission for Liberia to handle all rape cases in the country.
Speaking at a one-day consultative forum with stakeholders at the G. W. Gibson high school in central Monrovia, on October 1, 2020, Togbah said women have been marginalized and abused over the years with a recent increase in incidents against women and children, which according to him needs an autonomous body to address responsibly and effectively.
“We need to handle this issue of rape holistically and not by various groups in different ministries and agencies. It is because of this that FOHRD believes that a commission is needed to be established to handle rape cases holistically,” he said.
According to him, if established, the government will fund an independent commission that will be able now to deal with this menace that is on the increase in Liberia.
As an independent commission, FOHRD reasons that the entity will be able to seek funding from both local and international partners in the fight against this scourge of rape.
“Getting your views for the establishment of this commission is cardinal and additionally, your commitment to reducing this menace. It’s important for FOHRD to ascertain how the civil society organizations and human rights feel about having a commission that will only handle rape cases,” Mr. Togbah said.
Alaskai Moore Johnson, Communications Advocate for FOHRD said the establishment of an anti-rape commission will help to bring everyone involved in the fight against rape under one ‘umbrella’ across the country.
“We want everyone on board to get their ideas. Today, we have information and records on the issue of rape everywhere. The police, Gender Ministry, Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs have these records of rape cases; therefore, an anti-rape commission will help to synchronize information about rape,” Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson said the commission if established will bring together government institutions responsible for the fight against rape and experts as well as human rights groups.
“Our partners will easily walk to the commission to talk about ending or reducing rape, or provide funding easily to help in the fight against rape. It’s our expectation that the President will find logic in the establishment of this commission,” Mr. Johnson added.
He stressed the timeliness of the establishment of an anti-rape commission for Liberia in handling only rape, stating, “We recently witnessed the peaceful campaigners calling on the government to increase the fight against rape.
“We don’t need to have a situation again where if there is a rape case reported or brought to stakeholders, they will complain about the lack of a vehicle to move anywhere,” He added.
Backing the need to have an independent commission on rape, Mr. Johnson said having the commission will come with its own budgetary allotment and will also raise funding both locally and internationally to use for cases and victims of rape.
Yesterday’s forum brought together several representatives of institutions and students, including the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), National Traditional Council of Liberia, Messengers of Peace, Nimba Women Network Foundation for International Dignity, and Young Women Christian Association among others. Meanwhile, President George M. Weah has declared rape as a national emergency. Currently, a roadmap has been developed to fight rape and initial financial support of US$6 million from the government.