By: Ayeason Yeeba
Former Vice President and Standard Bearer of the former ruling Unity Party( UP) has joined the women of Liberia and advocates against Gender-based violence, to call the attention of the Government of Liberia to the alarming increase in the rate of sexual gender-based violence.
Former VP Joseph N. Boakai made specific reference to a 2021 report in which the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection reported 1,637 (One Thousand Six Hundred Thirty-Seven) cases. Of this number, 56% were reports of sexual violence and 50% were child survivors with Montserrado County accounting for the majority.
He also noted that of the rape cases reported, indictments were drawn for 6.23% of the cases, 3.60% of the cases were tried and 3.12% of the perpetrators were convicted.
He said these are just for the cases that have been recorded and reported. Now imagine the actual number of all the ones that are handled “the family way” or not reported for fear of stigmatization or threats from the perpetrators were reported.
The Unity Party standard Bearer asserted that women and children are indeed unprotected while the culture of impunity persists!
In 2019, the Domestic Violence Act was signed into law; the President thereafter declared Rape a National Emergency, and the National Road Map was carved in collaboration with civil society organizations. Despite all of these pronouncements and policy documents, rape continues to increase while perpetrators go with impunity.
Amb. Boakai has therefore called for the government to take charge and be intentional and truthful about its declaration of Rape as a National Emergency.
The former VP said the government took an oath to protect its citizens and that including women and children across the country.
The Unity Party Standard Bearer said In the last few weeks, Liberia has had many reports of rape, including cases of a 4- and 6-year-old- raped together in Gbarpolu, a three-year-old and 2 year 9 months old.
He noted that Liberians have sat and watched the future of these children being snatched right before their very eyes and have done nothing!
“Rape is not only the women’s concern! Rape is all of our concern!.” Said former VP Boakai
In addition to what the government can do and has failed to do, the men of Liberia have to take a stand in solidarity with the women and children in fighting against SGBV.
He further said that the ‘Joseph Nyuma Boakai Foundation’ will now add a new focus on making interventions and advocating for the protection of women and children against gender-based violence which will be coordinated by a committee he will set up.
Amb. Boakai indicated that they
will work closely with the women’s movement against gender-based violence and other civil society organizations to ensure this effort is impactful.
In addition to rallying calls, VP Boakai reiterates some of the suggestions continuously proffered by mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters every day:
1) Set protocols and follow them meticulously as is done with all national public health emergencies
2) Increase budgetary allocations to the Women & Child Protection Unit of the Liberia National Police to increase its capacity
3) Adequately fund the SGBV Unit, at the Ministry of Justice, to enable it to respond and win sexual gender-based violence cases.
4) Ensure that safe homes across the country that respond to survivors are functional and supported
5) Increase the number of Judges in the Circuit Court E
6) Educate our women and families on the danger of rape to the victims’ future.
At the same time, the former VP has called on the judiciary to dispense justice without fear or favor and to consider the current wave of rape cases in Liberia a matter of extreme national emergency, fast track case, and bring the perpetrators before the law.