A group from the #WeAreUnProtected campaign has taken anti-rape awareness to market places to educate business people on the prevention and channels in reporting about rape cases and seeking redress.
The #WeAreUnProtected campaign was established as a result of a damning report by ProPublica and TIME Magazine released on October 11, 2018 revealing sexual abuse of underage girls and widespread negligence by More Than Me, an educational American charity institution operating in Liberia, and has since worn black every Thursday in solidarity with victims and survivors of rape and all forms of sexual and gender based violence, to bring visibility to the issue.
Executive Coordinator of Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI), Facia Harris, told business people to always report rape incidents and to seek redress despite the individuals involved.
“If you keep your ears down in the various communities, you will know that the men are hampering our children, girls and women with rape and sexual violence and abuse. And it is wrong and against the law. Don’t hide rape, no matter who is involved,” Ms. Harris explained.
The anti-rape awareness on Thursday, September 17, held at the Rally Time Market on the UN drive, central Monrovia, was a scene of serious engagement through conversations with many parents/business people who paused to learn more about the processes leading to prosecuting rapists.
“Firstly, take the child to the hospital without bathing her to be treated or provided treatment because you do not know if the person who rapes that child has sickness. And secondly, rush or go to the police station to register the case so that the police can immediately arrest the perpetrator and commence investigation,” Ms. Harris explained.
She stressed that taking the victim to hospital to seek early treatment will help to provide the opportunity to produce enough evidence during the court process, stating “it’s usually difficult to produce the required evidence if the child is taken to the hospital later for check-up.
She told business people that rape victims are provided free treatments at various hospitals, including the James Davis Jr, Memorial Hospital in Paynesville; Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town; Hope for Women on AB Tolbert Road; and the One Stop Center in Du-port Road.
Ms. Harris calls on “parents go to the any of the health centers named and explain the situation and health authorities will immediately provide treatment. Don’t pay any money requested. Do not give money also to the police officer for anything.”
Commenting on the third process, Ms. Harris said psychosocial counselors are now available to counsel survivors of rape and forms of sexual and domestic violence, in order to get them stable, stating, “most often we parents or survivors of rape get unstable during such situation and even start to blame ourselves.”
According to Ms. Harris, the team has visited the ELWA Junction Market, the Old Road Markets and Rally Time Market and that several other market places will be visited to educate the people.
Three strong, bold and outspoken activists, including Facia Harris, Brenda B. Moore of Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) and Naomi Tulay-Solanke of Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), headed Thursday’s team at the Rally Time Market.
Nesuah Livingstone of REACH, Mmonbeydo Harrell of ORWOAC and Miatta Gray of Sister Hand Liberia, are also part of the ongoing public awareness term as Thursday In Black Conversation.
The campaign comprises women, feminist organizations, as well as youth and human rights organizations.
Meanwhile, Janet Gorh, a businesswoman at the Rally Time Market, asked several questions, including one about whether a 17-yr-old boy having an affair with a 16-yr-old girl amounts to rape, and why underage children who are pregnant are not taken to court to seek redress.
Many of the market women were more interested in knowing more about rape and processes leading to prosecution. The marketers were also encouraged to monitor the SGBV map put in place by Government of Liberia to ensure it is fully implemented, noting that “everyone has a role to fight SGBV at all levels.”
In another development, the Government of Liberia has declared rape national emergency following a three-day anti-rape campaign in Monrovia.