Sodomized At 10: Menace of Rape In The Liberian Society
Grand Bassa County – Dressed in a white trouser and a stripy shirt, little Lucky Boy looks drained as he struggles to keep is weary eyes open.
With faint tone, the 10-year-old boy responds softly to greetings from passerby, residents and human rights authorities in Buchanan city, Grand Bassa County.
Lucky Boy [not his real name for protection of his identity] is in the county’s capital to complete the second phase of medication for the authentication of occasional traumatic event of his young life.
Mamie (Which is also not her real name), his mother had reported that her son was repeatedly sodomized by some boys in Compound Three, the provisional capital of District Three – some 30 miles away from the Buchanan.
The aftermath of the allege abuse has caused severe stomach pain and fever for her son since March 2017. She had earlier blamed his condition on witchcraft.
“Lucky boy been crying on his stomach and his skin been very hot some days so I just felt it was witch craft not knowing my son was dying,” said the single mother of three who lost her husband couple of years ago.
Four boys between the ages of 16 to 19 in the same neighborhood she lived had often sodomized her son since January this year.
“The Four boys had sex with me plenty times in my butt (anus) and threaten to kill me if I ever say it to anyone,” Lucky Boy had told his mom more than five months ago.
That was months after his mother noticed that he was bleeding from the anus with continuous lose feces and a gradual breakdown of his system. She sought medical checkup at the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) hospital, about a mile from compound three.
Threats by the alleged perpetrators had petrified little Lucky when he was being abused, she said.
“Lucky was stubborn to explain what happened until I showed him pepper before he said the boys told him the day he said a word about it they will kill him,” she said.
By July, doctors at LAC had reported that her son’s condition required referral treatments, and she hurriedly moved him to Buchanan.
“The doctor people said the case was too big for them to handle so they told me to carry the boy Buchanan for better checkup”, she noted.
And she also wanted justice so she opted to take the case directly to the magisterial court instead of the Police since she did not trust that the Police would take the case seriously.
“The Police people just feel that I don’t have sense so they don’t want to give ear to my case and my son is dying slowly,” she said, accusing local detachment of accepting bribes to drop the case and leaving the alleged perpetrators to make mockery of her.
She accused the Police of delaying to apprehend the perpetrators whom she said were roaming the community all times.
According to some residents of the area, Mamie is noted for trading her body for money and behaves abnormally at time, so Police investigators may not have take her allegations or complaints seriously.
A resident, who prefer not to be named, said the constant abuse of Mamie in the community has landed her disrespect and loss of interest in such serious case.
“Police authority might not take this issue seriously because of the character involved.
“But regardless of who is involved in an abused case the law must take its course,” a member of the community said.
The Police have refuted claims of bribery in the case claiming that Mamie did not report the case to them initially.
Beatrice Mensah, the head of the Women and Children Protection Section (WACPS) at Compound three, said Police investigation into the case reveals that the perpetrators are all juvenile between 13 to 16 years, contradicting Mamie’s descriptions of the alleged offenders.
Mensah said Police made an arrest of one of the alleged perpetrators but later turned him over to his parents because he is a juvenile. She said investigation has continue and the matter will be forwarded to court for further prosecution.
Netty Doepoe, Grand Bassa County Gender and Social Protection Coordinator, confirmed that the Ministry of Gender has also launched an investigation.
As investigation continues, the lack of safe home and recovery center to offer sexual abuse survivals psychosocial counseling is a challenge in the county. This means little Lucky boy and his mother would find themselves back in a community that might bring him nightmares and stigma.
The discussion surrounding sodomy and gay rights remain a sticky issue for residents of compound three. Recently, a local journalist in the area was threatened due to his continuous advocacy to discourage sexual abuse of young boys and girls.
Journalist Hogkins Togba said some individuals at a major intellectual center threatened his wife on a radio show about discouraging sodomy in the county.
“Those individuals who are threatening me might be the ones who are practicing it here and spoiling the people children,” he asserted.
Due to several threats by some residents against him, Togba has decided to quit the radio show discussions about the danger of rape and sodomy in the community.
The Liberian Senate, less than two months ago, voted to amend the rape law to make it billable.
The body took the decision predicated upon a report from the senate judiciary committee.
The committee recommended that an accused person on bail for the commission of the crime of rape should report to the court, which grants bail on a monthly basis.
The move to amend the rape law has sparked debate across country. Some women groups claim that making the law billable makes women and children more vulnerable to the crime and increases perpetrators chances to walk free.
Liberia is a signatory to several international treaties and conventions on the protection of the rights of a child.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, signatory countries’ should ensure children are safeguarded against all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The convention calls for measures to safeguard children in the criminal justice system and rehabilitation for children who have suffered exploitation or abuse of any kind.
Cases of Sexual and Gender Based violence continue to be on the increase in Liberia as the country battles to end discrimination and all forms of violence against women, girls and boys.
According to the Ministry of Gender statistics on SGBV and rape in 2014, 708 cases of rape, including gang rape, were reported to law enforcement officers, health care providers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Meanwhile, Lucky is facing both psychosocial and health concerns as his medical report from the government hospital in Buchannan shows damage of rectum, laceration and other organs responsible for feces in the rectum.
His mom say the report indicates a terrible future for him as he struggles with severe pain in his rectum and struggles to withhold feces during anytime of the day or night.
“Mama please send me away to people from far off so I can live good life outside the compound because I am scary for my life”, his mother quoted him a saying.
He has dropped out of school and his mom is unable to foot the school fees.
She sells cold water and other provision for ends meet and economic hardship has force her to send Lucy Boy’s siblings to stay with some relatives.
Lisa Diasay, FPA Contributor