Liberia: Advocacy group condemns rise in rape, calls for concerted effort in combating it

Menengage Liberias Advocacy Committee

A pro-male advocacy group, MenEngage Liberia has strongly condemned the increasing wave of sexual violence, especially rape perpetrated against women and children in Liberia.

The group, through a statement issued at its office Paynesville recently said, the unprecedented rise in the number of rape cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic is deeply troubling and called for a united front in the fight against the menace.

“MenEngage Liberia strongly believe that these actions by men are not only wicked, cruel and malicious, but they are devilish and an abomination and a disgrace to all Liberian men, including authorities at different levels, individuals and communities who are doing little or nothing to curtail such ugly acts,” the group said in the statement read by the Chairman on its Advocacy Committee, Philip L. Nushann, Jr.

It continue: “MenEngage Liberia therefore, condemns in the strongest terms all forms of violence, including rape against women and children-both girls and boys. Rape should not-and cannot-be tolerated in our society.”

The group recounted several instances of rape cases, some include a pastor who was arrested by police on June 17, 2020 for rape, the case involving a 36 year-old man who pleaded for forgiveness after being accused of raping his 15-year old step-daughter and a 29-year old man who allegedly raped twin girls aged two-years-ten months.

The group also expressed ‘deep concern’ about the psychological trauma as well as the physical and emotional pains suffered by these survivors and called on the Legislature to not pass any law that will make rape a bailable offence in Liberia, but to drive laws that will influence social and traditional norms as well as women’s empowerment.

It called on the Government to strengthen and promote psychosocial support to survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence in the country.

In addition, the group wants all Liberian men to join the ‘Thursdays in Black’ campaign by wearing black shirt or suit on every Thursday as a way of raising our voices and standing up to rape and all forms of violence against women.

“We call on all Liberian men to do everything in their power to help create an environment in which our sisters, daughters, every woman, girls and boys will feel safe to live as children who can trust men as uncles, brothers, fathers and friends and so on.”

As of August 2020, official statistics show that about 960 cases of sexual violence including rape have been recorded since January 2020. The number reflects Liberia’s current position on the annual Gender Inequality Index: 177th out of 188 countries, which observers believe is expected to see more decline.

The rise in cases of sexual abuse also comes on the back of Amnesty International report that rape victims do not have justice due to multiple challenges, some of which include institutional weaknesses, corruption, lack of due diligence by governance as well as logistical and financial constraints.

In the statement, MenEngage said, while it acknowledges that the government is working with international partners to address some of the concerns it has raised, government should do more to  address the ‘low hanging fruits’ that will help bring perpetrators to book and give justice to survivors in a timely manner.

The advocacy group also implore all religious institutions across the country to avail their platforms for the promotion of anti-rape and SGBV messages during regular worship hours and at other religious functions.

“We call on all Bishops, the Liberia Council of Churches, the National Muslim Council of Liberia and the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia to lead this process,” it pleaded.

About the Organization

MenEngage Liberia is part of 22 networks of MenEngage Africa Alliance, a member of the Global MenEngage Alliance of non-governmental organizations and the United Nations agencies established in 2006 with the aim of engaging men and boys to achieve gender equality, prevent HIV and AIDS; promote human rights and reduce violence at all levels across the continent of Africa and question structural barriers to gender inequalities.

This article originally appeared on Front Page Africa, written by Gerald C. Koinyeneh