Swedish Ambassador Concern About Increasing Rape in Liberia
Monrovia – The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Lena Nordstrom has described the rise of the incidents of rape cases as terrible and wondered why there was an increase in Liberia.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo/ [email protected]
“I’m a woman, I have 4 girls and I have worked in many countries and have seen this; this is not new to me but the seriousness of this issue I have not seen it anywhere like Liberia. It breaks my heart, it breaks my heart as a human being, a woman and a mother,” Ambassador Nordstrom
She said that rape was a critical issue and must be tackled by community dwellers and men especially.
Ambassador Nordstrom questioned men why there was an increase when there are rules and laws governing the country against the crime.
“It’s a serious problem and it still continues. Why does it continue? Liberians have to ask themselves what the relationship between boys and girls is.
“I’m a woman, I have 4 girls and I have worked in many countries and have seen this; this is not new to me but the seriousness of this issue I have not seen it anywhere like Liberia. It breaks my heart, it breaks my heart as a human being, a woman and a mother,” Ambassador Nordstrom.
She said that it was frustrating that perpetrators were often protected by community members instead of reporting the act to the police.
“When it comes to the issue as rape and other things, there are rules. Liberia has a tough and severe punishment but it still happens so it has to be talked about,” she noted.
The Swedish Ambassador said that the rule of law was absolutely necessary and is a prerequisite in fighting rape in the country.
“It is good for rule of law to be strengthened, access to justice is a way of maintaining peace, security for everyone and justice belongs to the court. It is not okay for the citizens to take justice in their own hand,” she added.
She disclosed that she had visited several prisons where she discovered that rape, robbery and murder were the common crimes for which people were often convicted in Liberia.
“When I went there, there were three most important crimes, rape, robbery and murder. Rape has a severe punishment here but let’s look at it in Liberia not many cases are reported and fewer cases were taken to court.
“It is a big-big problem, it is not okay, and it has to be stopped. No society can sit back and just relax and think that it will solve rape by itself when children like the ages of 4,6,10; I mean young women’s whole life is taken away in a moment and nothing happens to the perpetrator.
On the other hand, there has to be societal condemnation if you wish, so society must reveal the person and say it is not okay. The perpetrator must be brought to court.
A recent United Nations revealed that there is high incidence of rape in Liberia and the widespread impunity enjoyed by perpetrators, and provides a number of recommendations to the Government, other national and international stakeholders, including the UN, to urgently combat the scourge.
The recommendations include enhancing the fight against impunity through additional resources and capacities, including to the sex crimes prosecutor’s office, developing forensic investigation, harmonizing rape provisions in the penal code and enacting the Domestic Violence Act, which would make spousal rape a criminal offence.