The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia or AFELL cautions the 54th Legislature of Liberia to abandon its quest to make rape a non-bailable offense in the country.
The Rape Law of 2005 defines rape as “the intentional penetration however slight with the perpetrator’s penis of the victim’s vagina, anus, mouth, or other opening without the victim’s consent, or the intentional penetration with a foreign object or other body part of the victim’s vagina or anus without the victim’s consent.”
Rape is a non-bailable offense under the current Rape Law of Liberia with perpetrators having no access to parole while serving terms in prison, but the Liberian Senate under the 53rd legislature amended the Rape Law, making it bailable. The amended version is before the House of Representatives for concurrence.
But the President of AFELL, Attorney Vivian Neal says the crime should remain non-bailable to minimize the raping and killings of young girls and women in Liberia.She urges lawmakers, who are requesting that rape be a bailable offense to abandon their quest to save the children and women of Liberia from continued abuse.
The Liberian Senate recently voted to amend the current rape law,making the crime a bailable offense. The Senate took the decision on Tuesday, during its 60th day sitting of the sixth session.
The amended legislation has also been submitted to the House of Representatives for concurrence. Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay proposed the amendment.
The Senate’s Committee on Judiciary, following a review of the proposed amendment, recommended to plenary that the crime be a bailable offense. But AFELL President Neal argues that lives of young girls, women and children will be at risk if such crime is made bailable by the legislature.
“The crime is not bailable and you see how the issue of rape is alarming by the day; our girls, our babies, our women and even young boys are victims in the midst of this strong rape law, what’s more if you make it bailable, what will happen to us in this country,” she laments.
She describes as demonic and wicked, individuals, who rape and kill innocent women and children.Attorney Neal calls for a speedy trial of those recently involved in the mysterious killing of 17-year-old Satta Binda in Gbartala, Bong County, Central Liberia. At least six persons have been reportedly arrested in connection with the crime that sent shockwaves throughout the nation.
Atty. Neal addressing journalists at AFELL Office in Monrovia says it is sadden for Liberia that the issue of rape is still alarming. “Such act sends a bad picture about Liberia, so, this needs to stop by those wicked individuals.”
After the death of Satta, there was a major protest on Monday, September 17, by residents of Gbartala in Bong County, demanding justice.
Moses Kollie, spokesman for the protestors, said their action was intended to draw attention of local authorities, to ensure justice for the victim.
“We know how the people feel about the death of Satta, but I am calling on them to remain calm as we engage government to bring to book those involved in the act,” she pleads. At the same time the AFELL boss frowns on the death of a woman who was beheaded in Zorzor, Lofa County; a woman who was shot by her husband in Cow Farm, Bong County, including gang raped of a 13-year-old girl in Maryland County, southeast Liberia.
She says AFELL stands ready to work with the Ministry of Justice in the prosecution of those found in the act of rape and other Sexual Gender Based Violence cases here. She calls on the entire Nation, especially women, girls and Civil Society Organizations to wear black this and every Thursday to demonstrate solidarity and protest against SGBV.
By Ethel A. Tweh-Editing by Jonathan Browne