By Samuel G. Dweh\freelance journalist (0886 618 906/776 583 266)
A DNA machine to settle the arguments over penetration of penis during sexual intercourse not permitted by a girl or woman is expected at the end of March, 2018, an official of the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection (MGCSP) said at a one-day workshop organized by the Ministry on March 21, 2018.
“This machine will test the specimen of semen of the person who actually carried out the act,” Mr. Emmett Kaye, Special Technical Assistant to the Minister of Gender, said.
The cost of the the DNA machine will is “around US$300,000,” Mr. Kaye revealed in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer, but could not disclose from where the machine would be sourced.
According to him, the DNA machine will be purchased by the United Nations Missions In Liberia (UNMIL) on a “tripartite agreement,”. UNMIL will also install the machine at a location yet to be disclosed.
The Gender Ministry’s official disclosure was a response to a male participant’s question about what proof would the Ministry of Gender in the Weah administration give to substantiate whether a man or boy accused of raping a girl or woman was the real culprit.
“What proof of penetration would the Ministry of Gender have against me, for example, on the rape I’m accused of?” the participant had asked.
The participant’s question was based on the assertion of the Ministry’s Assistant Director of Research & Statistics, Mr. Mr. Abraham Conneh. Mr. Conneh, one of the main speakers at the Workshop, had said, “Courts that handle rape cases do not have forensic lab.”
Several calls and text messages placed to UNMIL’s public information section, including the section head, Leigh Robinson, to get more details about the expected equipment, received no response.
It is not clear whether the Weah administration has encountered any rape case since it took office on January 22, 2018. The administration of his predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson, faced dozens of reports on rape where the ‘culprits’ had been thrown into prison pending trial, based on mere accusation.
Many of those imprisoned for alleged rape, spent months, if not years, in jail awaiting trial. But most of these ‘convicts’ had told their lawyers or friends that they had been falsely accused.
In August 2016, a young man at the Monrovia Central Prison, popularly known as “South Beach”, narrated to his relatives and friends who had come to visit him in his cell.
“I swear, I didn’t enter that girl,” the young prisoner narrated to his visitors. “Her parents met her in my room and accused me of having sex with her. They took me to court and the court sentenced me to jail, without showing proof of penetration.”
However, there were other instances where ‘suspected’ rapists denied committing the act even when the clothes of girl he was accused of sexually defiling was soaked with blood or bodily fluid discovered in her private area.
But neither the accusing persons nor the government (of Madam Sirleaf) had provided certified laboratory evidence linking the ‘suspect’ to the crime.
The Gender Ministry workshop, titled “Mainstreaming Gender into Liberia’s Successor National Development Framework”, was held to “discuss the pro-poor agenda of the new government of Ambassador George Manneh Weah with budgetary constraints, but with enormous human resources available,” Mr. Kay said during the introduction of the Workshop.
Speaking on the objectives of the Workshop, Abraham Conneh, MGCSP’s Director of Research & Statistics, revealed the challenges facing Liberian women and girls as hindrances to President Weah’s ‘pro-poor’ project. “22 percent of teachers are unqualified,” he said, quoting an official report.
Madam Lawodo Nimely Thomas, an Economist and official at the MGCSP, who made presentations on the Economy and Gender Mainstreaming, said “the Liberian economy is stressed,” and that the Ministry “will collaborate with civil society organizations on finding priority areas” for the actualization of President Weah’s ‘pro-poor’ agenda.
Participants made various recommendations for achieving the MGCSP’s goals.
Madam Lorpu G. Mannah, Director of Girls Education at the Ministry of Education, suggested “Night School” for girls and women who do not have time to attend school during daytime due to personal reasons. “When they learn to read and write in these schools, they can serve as mid-wives in some areas,” she said.
The Workshop ended with group discussions and presentations on problems with Gender Mainstreaming, and solution methods.