GOING THROUGH the budgetary appropriations of the Special Budget that is to cover July to December, there is glaring notice that there is no allocation for the combat of rape – an endemic the country is battling.
IN SEPTEMBER 2020, President George Manneh Weah declared rape a national emergency. He also introduced the first set of new measures to address the increase in violence against women. The measures include designating a specific prosecutor to handle rape cases and setting up a national sex offender registry. He is also creating a national security task force to handle sexual and gender-based violence and is allocating $2 million to address the issue.
Women’s rights advocates praised the move but emphasize the need to hold Weah accountable.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE against women increased by 50% in Liberia during the pandemic. The Ministry of Justice recorded more than 600 reported rape cases between January and June 2020 alone, a rate close to reaching annual levels. Liberia recorded 803 rape cases in 2015, according to a UN report.
WOMEN AND GIRLS around the world face an increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence because they are more likely to be trapped at home with their abusers and lack resources to escape. Disruptions in social services and health care are making it even more challenging for survivors to seek assistance.
IT IS QUITE unfortunate that despite the lofty promises toward the combat of this menace in our society, too little has been seen towards the fulfilment of these promises.
OVER THE WEEKEND, a group of Women and children rights advocates have called on the Legislature to allocate funding in the 2021 Special budget to effectively combat of rape and protect survivors of the menace.
THE GROUP SAID, “The President’s action to declare rape as a national emergency and later the Ministry of Gender’s deliberately refusing to put money in the 2021 national special budget was just a mere bluff. It’s sad, but the President’s action was all performative just for the media.”
THEY CONTINUED: “Well, we believe they have fooled us. But today, we say, enough is enough. We want accountability. We want the actions and we want the Legislature to allocate funding for fight against rape. You can’t declare rape as a national crisis and refuse to fund it.”
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN for their own protection must be ignored or brushed under the carpet. The Legislature still has the opportunity to right the wrong of the Ministry of Gender by appropriating funds specifically for the pursue of rape and rape-related cases.
WORDS MUST BE accompanied by actions – that’s how goals are achieved.
AS THE Feminist-in-Chief of the Republic, we believe that much more is expected of the President ensuring that Liberia begins to change the narratives on the prevalence of rape in the country. Our children remain vulnerable, it is incumbent upon our generation to save and protect our future generation. It must begin now with real actions, not bluff words.