The management of the Holistic Education Advocating Leadership (HEAL) has taken its anti-rape campaign to various communities, thus renewing its call for Liberians to be knowledgeable of issues surrounding rape.
The group made the call recently when they held a documentary screening to raise awareness about a 7-year-old girl, Olivia Zinnah (deceased), who unfortunately was raped by her cousin (name withheld).
In 2012, Olivia died of an infection at a hospital a week following the incident. She was the fourth girl known to have died of rape-related injuries over the years.
In Liberia, HEAL said most rape cases are never reported to authorities. As a result, victims died of untreated injuries caused by the violent force associated with rape.
The documentary, which HEAL calls “Small-Small Thing,” aims to depict some of the struggles members of the entity go through to deal with the social and judicial system, which eventually lead to victims’ death.
According to reports, every day in Liberia, at least three underage girls are raped. But in the wake of the alarming high number of rape cases against children, HEAL intensifies its fight to end the crime.
At the opening section of the one-day event, the Founder and executive director of the organization Mawata Kamara explained that the documentary also paints a very good picture of what others look at from the other side of the world, where a lot of the victims have been sexually assaulted at tender ages. “Some of the victims were at ages seven and so forth,” she said.
According to Madam Kamara, it was important as a non-profit initiative tackling the epidemic of rape and sexual assaults in the country to keep elaborating on such issues, so that community members can keep talking about it.
“Creating awareness about rape is everybody’s business; we need to put efforts to end the menace,” she noted.
She also noted that many times in Liberia rape is one of the very few things people talk about. Rather, people talk more about politics or education. However, much emphasis is not placed on rape, she said.
Madam Kamara lauded the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for donating a forensic machine to Liberia, adding that as part of HEAL’s contribution in such endeavors, it is going to provide training in order to keep up the momentum associated with the forensic machine.
“We think this machine is going to give children who have been raped a voice,” Mawata said, noting that her organization will deal with some of the existing social problems through the use of the machine.
HEAL is expected to host a girl summit in October this year.
HEAL is a 501(c) 3 non-profit initiative, tackling the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in Liberia, West Africa and communities alike. Among other things, HEAL wishes to raise awareness about the alarming high number of rape against underage children, educate Liberians on the long and short-term effects of rape and sexual assault, advocate for the victims and make DNA forensics available to provide rape kits and to seek justice for the victims.
HEAL ultimately wants to open a forensics laboratory in Liberia, with the sole purpose of providing DNA analysis that will help bring rape perpetrators to justice.
Meanwhile, River Cess County District 1 Representative Rosana Schaack has encouraged citizens to join the initiative as HEAL strives to end the rape saga in the country.