President George Manneh Weah, also self-declared Liberia’s chief feminist, has failed to respond to anti-rape protesters’ demand here to personally appear and receive their petition against increasing wave of rape in the country.
The Liberian society is saturated with rape and sexual and gender base violence cases, including sodomy almost daily in all 15 counties, affecting scores of victims some of them as old as three years.
Protesters numbering over one thousand under the banner Affiliation of Women and Child Rights Advocates are staging a three-day march in the street of Monrovia beginning from Vamoma House, Sinkor to the Executive Mansion, seat of the Liberian presidency to petition President Weah for his intervention in the persistent abuse and violation of women, children and babies.
Unfortunately like Tuesday, 25 August on their first day of gathering, the protesters on Wednesday, 26 August never succeeded in having Mr. Weah appear in person to receive their petition.
They have therefore, resolved to take the petition to the private residence of the President today, Thursday, in Rehab community along the Robertsfield highway outside Monrovia to get his attention.
However, the protesters on Tuesday petitioned the 54th National Legislature, among others, calling for increment in budgetary support to Criminal Court ‘E’ that is exclusively responsible to hear rape cases, including strengthening the entire judicial system to ensure speedy trial of rape and sexual and gender base violence cases.
They also called for hiring of more judges to try such cases in a speedy and expeditious manner, including strengthening the capacity of the women and children protection division of the Liberia National Police to investigate and bring suspected rapists to book.
A representative of one of the protesting groups, Youth Action Movement, Ms. KuluboKoquoi stressed a need for national government to address constant abuse of women and girls in the country.
“This is alarming and it has claimed our attention that we can no longer sit and wait for government to take action; we need to hold their feet to the fire”, she said.
The conspicuous silence of President Weah over rape issues has been described as not only quite disappointing, but clear act of insensitivity especially, when the President has tagged himself as chief feminist of Liberia, but paradoxically showing no concern for issues affecting women’s lives.
Rape in Liberia is a crime that is punishable by ten (10) years or lifetime imprisonment depending on the degree of the rape (rape of a minor, rape resulting to serious bodily harm, rape using a weapon, and gang rape).
Story by Jonathan Browne