United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and Liberian Government Launch Anti Rape Campaign

Rape, a serious but frequently reported crime is becoming an issue of national concern as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) along side the Liberian Government is touring the nation carrying the message of rape aimed at changing if not eradicating the traditional perceptions of Liberians regarding the compromise of rape cases.

The issue of rape and the passage of the law together with its punishments against the perpetrators of such crime seem not to be working therefore, UNMIL and government have begin an anti-rape campaign, a process of explaining what the law says about crimes regardless of who the perpetrators may be especially perpetrators of rape.

Over the weekend, the organizers launched the ninth anti-rape campaign in Tubmanburg Bomi County where UNMIL Deputy Special Representative for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu and UNMIL HIV and AIDS Advisor Joyce Puta spoke about the seriousness of rape and urged the community to expose such crime.

According to the two UN officials, rape is not only a crime; it is an abomination to any society and a horrific crime that spoils lives and relationships. They said that even the Bible teaches that one must live in harmony with each other stressing that God approves sex not to dehumanize any one or for war purposes but for consent and enjoyment.

The two UN envoys noted that rape brings both the victims and perpetrators at risk for conception and sexually transmitted diseases that sometimes lead to abortion or a child might be conceived who is sure to suffer dejection from the mother.

They however tied the increase of such crime to traditional and cultural beliefs disclosing that it is being reported that rape is not only perpetrated on the girl child but it is now moving on to boys who are being sodomized daily but gradually.

They said that the four years of peace has yielded fruits in terms of the reduction of many crimes but rape still remains an issue that is shameful and which when perpetrated in a society, it lasts for a life time bringing about social stigma.

They said that it is about time that the laws therein are allowed to take its course when violated.

Liberia is said to be among fewer countries globally that have adopted a law pertaining to rape but a more proactive move needs to be taken to ensure that both survivors, perpetrators as well as those who might want to have it compromised feel its punishments.

It is said that most times it is close relatives who perpetrate most of the reported cases of rape or men who are known by the survivals.

It was reported recently that one of Liberia’s Press Union Feature Award winner, Bill Jarkloh was whisked off to prison for allegedly raping and subsequently sodomizing an eight year old girl, while on the same day, one Kelvin Boima Green, a security at the Central Bank of Liberia and nephew of former Central Bank Governor, Charles Green was charged with rape on a ten year old girl.

Also in the Congo Town community, one Alvin Teah, 32, was alleged of raping a girl who had gone in that vicinity to sell cold water. For defendant Green who is said to be in his early 50s, residents of his Paynesville community said that he is not known for flirting children but according to an inside source, he had earlier had a quarrel with his victim’s aunt, Massa Lessa who happens to be his betrothed wife.

The source said that he had earlier taken sufficient drugs in an apparent mood of waging revenge on Massa’s niece who she left at the house after she ran away due to death treats issued on her by Mr. Green.

The source did not dwell on the family quarrel but said that after the rape incidence, before being taken to prison, Mr. Green said that he does not remember at which time he perpetrated such act and his uncle, former governor Green, is now seeking permission for the conduct of a DNA test on the victim in order to prove the case

According to reports from the Jarkloh case, as he and his fiancée have been charged with rape and kidnapping respectfully, community dwellers are complaining that the police together with the save home where the child was placed by the accused are trying to influence the child to say that she was used into accusing Jarkloh as they are contending that the case has to come from the police end before a charge is placed on the accused by the court.

Meanwhile, Bill, a renowned Liberian journalist, was a one- time reporter of the Inquirer Newspaper, editor of the oldest Liberian newspaper, The News Newspaper where he captured the Press Union of Liberia Feature Writer Award. He is a present consultant at the Vision Newspaper and the communication officer at the Ghanaian Embassy in Monrovia.

As for Bomi County, it is reported that since 2008, none of its 47 cases of rape has been won by the state lawyers while all of its reported 67 cases of domestic violence has not been taken to court due to survivals’ appeal to have them settled by family means.

Meanwhile, seven of the rape cases perpetrated in the county is said to be on the docket for this May term of court.

The counties that the UNMIL Anti-rape Campaign has already been launched in are Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Maryland, Margibi, and Bomi. Meanwhile, the campaign moves on to Grand Cape Mount this weekend.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200805200410.html

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