The national chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties or CPP alarms here that reported rape cases in Liberia has become a pandemic. Mr. Alexander Cummings notes however, that unfortunately, the administration of justice appears to weigh favorably for accused persons than it does in support of victims and survivors.
“This imbalance is so bad that it is actually more difficult to report and investigate cases of rape and sexual abuse. As a result, many victims and survivors opt to endure in life-long silence and mental agony. The underfunding of our judicial sector and the flagrant efforts to politically influence and undermine justice is clearly destroying the lives of far too many of our citizens. It is also weaning public confidence in the justice system,” he decries.
Speaking in a news conference in Monrovia Wednesday, he cited that a prime example is the case of a CDC lawmaker and executive of the ruling Coalition, who continues to use his political influence, proximity to the President and affluence to imprison and try a young woman who is alleging that he had sexually harassed her, noting that this is the height of silencing, and where officials of the government should give voices to alleged victims and survivors, they are effectively silencing them.
“Today, the statistics are grim. Not since the civil war has there been such a massive number of cases reported. It must be said that this government is credited for passing the Domestic Violence Law. But it can also be credited for shelving the law after passing it because cases of Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) continue to rise. By their own numbers, the total number of SGBV cases for 2018 was 2,145 but increased in 2019 to 2,590 cases. So far this year, about 600 cases were reported from January-March with only 32 cases prosecuted. This is unacceptable,” Cummings he expresses.
According to him, also unacceptable is the reported statistics that of these numbers, over 90 percent of men are alleged perpetrators. Mr. Cummings recounts that recently, a stepfather who raped his 15-year-old stepchild was apprehended and is under investigation, while a male officer of the Liberian National Police allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl in the King Gray Community, including a young girl allegedly raped by a Pastor.
He says the CPP cannot continue to sit idly and fail these innocent victims many of whom, he laments, are being deprived of their adolescence.
“We must end rape, and sexual abuse and violence. To do this, we must fix the justice system. We can do this by repairing the prevailing institutional weaknesses to include: providing psycho-social support to survivors, as well as logistical, financial and other technical support to our health and legal systems to improve their investigatory and prosecutorial capacities,” the opposition leader recommends.
President George Weah has declared himself as chief feminist of Liberia, but the administration seems to have turned blind eyes on widespread abuses against women and girls here.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne