President George Manneh Weah has issued a proclamation declaring the scourge rape a national emergency, roughly two weeks after mass anti – rape protests were held in three successive days here, attracting women, men and children from all walks of live, including former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
Having faced criticisms for his failure to appear in – person to take delivery of anti – rape protesters’ petition throughout the protest days ending 27 August, Mr. Weah however convened a Cabinet after being presented a National Anti – Rape and Sexual and Gender – based Violence (SGBV) Roadmap which evolved from deliberations of Inter-Ministerial Task Force.
Under the National Rape Emergency, President Weah on Friday, 11 September announced as yet an unnamed Special Prosecutor for rape as well as the setting up of a National Sex Offender Registry.
Mr. Weah also announces the establishment of a National Security Task Force on SGBV and the allotment of an initial amount of US$2 Million to fund to beef up the fight against rape and SGBV.
Though Mr. Weah did not address journalists after they had been posted for several hours to get an update from the Cabinet meeting, his Deputy Press Secretary Smith Toby however indicated that the president had assured that his administration will spare no effort in ensuring that the epidemic of rape and SGBV is curtailed.
According to Toby, additional measures will be announced subsequently including Executive Orders aimed at protecting the vulnerable and banning harmful traditional practices.
Further, he says President Weah urges all Liberians, activists, advocates along with local and international stakeholders to work with the government in defeating the scourge of rape in the country.
The Cabinet meeting on Friday followed a National Conference on SGBV in the wake mass anti – rape protests held in Monrovia and other parts of Liberia in late August to push the Weah administration to take some steps aimed curtailing the increasing rape cases and other sexual – related offences here.
Reports of rape cases continue to rise here of recent with victims even less than a year – old and in some cases, the perpetrators acting very brutally to prey on their victims.
In one case that emerged from Gbarpolu County of recent, a perpetrator is accused of using razor blade to cut the private part of a three – year – old girl so as to pave his way to abuse her sexually.
But these anti – rape protests seem not to have deterred some child abusers, judging from more new alleged rape cases that continue to emerge based on police authorities’ report.
By Winston W. Parley