Liberia: Gender Minister Blames Increasing Reports of Rape Cases on Slow Judicial System
MONROVIA – Liberia’s Gender Minister Williametta E. Saydee -Tarr has blamed the rise in cases of rape and other forms of gender-based violence on the slow pace at which cases are adjudicated, and the lack of interest in demanding prosecution by the victims.
During her Senate appearance on Thursday on request from Senator Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County, Minister Tarr said, most often the slow pace in adjudicating rape and SGBV cases discourages victims from pursuing their case.
She also blamed victims and families of victims who refuse to allow perpetrators of these crimes to be prosecuted as some of the factors leading to the continuous acts of rape and gender-based violence against women and girls.
The gender minister also stressed the need to review existing rape laws by making it stronger which she believes can to discourage perpetrators to an extent. She is also calling for more financial support to be given the fight against human trafficking.
According to statistics presented by the Justice Ministry, the aggregate of all form of violence cases for the year 2021 is 49. Eleven of which are sexual harassments; 11 cases went to court; five are under investigation while a case is awaiting trial. The suspects of three reported cases are still at large.
The Justice Ministry also reported that in 2021, 104 persons were indicted, 26 cases were won and one was acquitted.
As a backing to the minister’s claims of victims not wanting perpetrators to be prosecuted, it was recently reported that a Liberian woman, 22, prevented her boyfriend from being prosecuted.
It became a tale of survival as the victim is said to be pregnant for eight months, and the Sinoe County Attorney, Daniel T. Dweh, told FrontPageAfrica since he returned to the county for the February Term of Court, the victim has been complaining that she doesn’t want her boyfriend to be prosecuted.
“If my husband is convicted and sentenced who would take care of me and my unborn baby?
Ahead of her boyfriend’s appearance in Court, the victim is said to have recovered and surviving from the sale of plantain and banana and using the proceeds to provide food for her detained boyfriend. “I have been selling plantain and other food stuffs to feed my boyfriend in prison,” she said.
It’s a decision that has shocked many, including justice actors and civil society activists alike.
Attorney Dweh disclosed that victim has boldly informed him that she won’t appear in court to testify against her boyfriend.
According to Attorney Dweh, after her pronouncement of not appearing in court to testify against her boyfriend, he immediately called right activists including the gender coordinator to inform them about what the survivor has told him.