The head of the Women and Children Protection Section of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Vera Mendy, has disclosed that there is an increase in sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic abuse even as the Ebola virus loses ground in the country.
Making the disclosure during last Thursday‘s MICAT press briefing, Ms. Mendy described gender-based violence as cruel. “Rape against children is also on the increase,” she added. At least 85 percent of those victimized, are between the ages of 3 and16 or perhaps even younger, according to Ms. Mendy.
From January to November of this year the administration of Women and Children Protection Section has received 2,267 violence-related cases against women, emanating from all depots in the country, including 382 cases of sexual and gender-based violence, she said.
“These gender issues include rape, statutory rape, gang rape, corruption of minors and sexual assault. Out of the 382 court cases pending investigation, we have been able to send 114 alleged offenders to the judiciary,” she says.
“We have also had persistent reports of nonsupport to mothers of children, simple assault, and battering of women by their male partners, resulting in minor injuries, terroristic threats, amongst others. This has amounted to 1,111 cases, of which we have sent 233 to magistrates; while 283 others are pending investigation and 595 cases have been withdrawn.”
Giving out more troubling statistics, Ms. Mendy reported that there were 760 cases of lost-and-found runaways, interfering with child custody, endangering child welfare and abandoned children. 108 of those cases were sent to various courts while 216 cases are pending investigation, with the rest withdrawn,
With all the constraints of handling these cases amid the deadly Ebola virus, WACPS will continue to be vigilant in its mandate to investigate and arrest perpetrators, she warned.
Highlighting the challenges, Madam Mendy explained that officers responding to the scene of an assault must take precautionary measures to ensure not only their safety, but the safety of persons being arrested given the Ebola epidemic in the country.
“The process of intervening at a crime scene and carrying out investigations amid the Ebola crisis are major challenges for the police,” she said.
Madam Mendy said it is advisable for both the perpetrators and victims of gender-based violence to take preventive measures to help reduce the risk of contracting the virus through close physical contact with infected persons.
Urging the general public to controll their tempers and violent emotions, she observed that people ought to desist from verbal and physical assault, reporting all offenses to the police or seeking immediate medical assistances, should the need arise.