Helping Our People Excel, Inc. (HOPE) in partnership with anti-child rape campaigners Monday, December 9, hosted a National Children’s Rape Conference. In that conference, children were told what to do when anyone attempts to or rapes them. The kids were also told how to report it.
Cllr. Joyce Kerpeh from the Ministry of Justice, said that children should not be afraid to speak out when they have been victimized. She also urged parents across the country to be vigilant in reporting any rape cases when they are observed.
“From 2009 to 2013, 34 rapists have been convicted and are serving their sentences handed down by the Court,” Mrs. Kerpeh disclosed.
Cllr. Kerpeh is calling on parents to be brave in dealing with rape issue, adding that the justice system was only strong enough to prosecute perpetrators with support from the victims.
A petition statement is in collaboration with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence that was launched on the 25th of November, by HOPE in the YMCA conference room.
Speaking at a national children’s press conference held at the Ministry of Gender and Development, Mrs. Marimu Fofana, Chair Representative for the Committee on Gender at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said it was also highly important for the awareness of teenage pregnancy to be observed among children so they can understand that “their reproductive organs are underdeveloped for child birth.”
She added that “rape should be everyone’s business, because for a society to move forward its children must be protected.”
Mrs. Deddeh Kwekwe of the Ministry of Gender and Development said that the 2014 plan to combat gender based violence would focus on prevention and education of the public, adding that “we must increase the awareness to talk more about it.”
She mentioned Montserrado and Margibi as the counties with the highest incidence of rape in the country, and maintained that parents should take serious measures to stop violence against their children for the betterment of their homes and the country as a whole.
Mrs. Kwekwe said the ministry was also working with traditional authorities to curb the rate of early marriages in the rural areas. She called on all parents and guardians to stop acting as accomplices to in the early marriages of their children under 18, a practiced she described as the ‘destruction’ of their future.
The executive Director HOPE inc., Doctor Keturah York Cooper, warned rapists in the country to desist from ‘killing’ the future of Liberia.
Mrs. Cooper said the future of the nation’s children is uncertain due to the high level of rape in the country, saying “that the war is not over for our children, we must fight for their future against rapists.”
She said it was time that Liberians stand up against rape and build the minds of the children for the betterment of future generations as well as the country’s image.
During the conference a petition statement was read by Abraham Keita, the spokesperson of the child anti-rape campaigners, to the stakeholders present. Cllr. Joyce Kerpeh from the Ministry of Justice received the petition statement and promised to work with the children of this country to put an end to rape.