The House of Representatives has set up five committees to look into petition from anti rape protesters under the banner, Affiliation of Women and Child Rights Advocates over alarming rape cases in the country.
The committees include Gender, Judiciary, Security, Health, and Ways, Means and Finance, respectively. They have been mandated to report in two weeks.
The House’s decision follows a communication sent to Plenary by the Chairperson on Gender, Representative Julie F. Wiah of Lofa County district #2, informing her colleagues about a petition she received here Tuesday, on behalf of the House.
In her communication to plenary, Representative Wiah notes that since March 2020 to now, over 958 rape cases have been reported and only a handful of perpetrators have been arrested, adding that while sexual abuse is being normalized and justified; people are using women’s supposedly indecent dress-code to justify rape when indeed over 90% of the total number of rape cases affects kids below 13.
According to the female lawmaker, some of the cases are beyond human imagination and needs to be addressed speedily, saying that most of the suggestions within the Petition will help protect girls.
‘’There are rape cases which include one month old to ten years old babies and strictly violates the Rape Law of Liberia, Chapter 14 Section 14.70 of the Panel Code and Section 13.1.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law; Statutory Rape is a felony of the first degree which is a non-billable offence in Liberia but there are reports indicating perpetrators in such category who are set free for reasons best known to several judges.’’
The Lofa County lawmaker laments that it is sad to see the wave violence against women and girls, stressing that the issue of rape is a serious challenge in Liberia, and as women are protesting against rape, the crime is occurring on a daily basis.
Also speaking on the issue, Montserrado County district #8 Representative Acarous Gray, from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, says rape is war against women and children.
Gray calls for an investigation to establish why rape cases are rising despite having in place an amended and strengthened rape law that has made the crime non-bailable.
Representative Larry Yanquio of Nimba County district #7 expresses disappointment that women and those who mean well for the country have been in the street for three days without the Executive coming out to listen to their cry.
He calls on President George Manneh Weah to meet with Liberians, but ruling CDC lawmaker Gray rebuffs that the rape battle is not a presidential fight, rather, a battle for the Liberian people.
Bomi County district #3 Representative Haja F. Siryon, urges the Legislature to act on most of the recommendations in the protesters’ petition, emphasizing that perpetrators caught in the act should be castrated and amputated.
By Bridgett Milton–Editing by Jonathan Browne