Liberia: Girl, 13, Raped, Gashed by Stepfather and Friend; Forced to Return to Scene of Assault
Monrovia – Thirteen-year-old Korpo (not her real name) is lingering in pain and still enduring the trauma, that has become a daily routine in Liberia these days, for underage girls between the ages of three to fifteen: another stolen adolescence added to the rapidly growing rape survivors’ statistics.
Report by Mae Azango, [email protected]
FrontPageAfrica has been able to confirm that the 13-year-old was allegedly gang raped by her mother’s boyfriend and his friend, in the Front Street Community in Monrovia.
The incident came to light this week when the mother confronted her boyfriend regarding her daughter’s allegation that his friend had raped her last Friday evening.
Fearing his name being mentioned, the boyfriend used a cutlass and gashed the victim on the arm and shoulder then fled the scene.
A FrontPageAfrica reporter visited The Star of the Sea Clinic in West Point, where the Korpo was taken for medical treatment. There, medics confirmed that the victim was penetrated.
Mother’s boyfriend Accused
Medics who treated the survivor confirmed to FPA that she was patched up with sixteen stitches after being inflicted with arm and shoulder wounds. Doctors also treated the victim for malaria.
When stabilized, medics told FPA that the survivor was reluctant to speak to anyone, including the nurses, as to what had transpired.
It was not until later, that nurses say, Korpo, who appeared frightened, agreed to speak to Mrs. Ne-Suah Livingstone of Rescue for Abandoned Children in Hardship, (REACH), an NGO that caters to abandoned children and raped victims spoke with her.
The survivor lamented: “My ma boyfriend called me to carry him somewhere, but I did not know he was going to do anything to me. When we were going, he and his friend carried me in one corner and did all kinds of things to me.”
Investigators confirmed to FPA that the Survivor, who should have been taken to a safe home by the Ministry of Gender after her treatment, was not picked up til 10 p.m. after her mother came to take her home. “She broke down in tears and began crying,” the investigator said.
According to the investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity, the Survivor did not want to go back to the home where her boyfriend lives with her mother.
Gender Ministry Mum on Latest Case
The mother, according to the investigator resulted to beating and dragging the Survivor and demanded that the Survivor return with her at the home of her abuse.
When contacted via mobile, Gender Deputy Minister, Alice Howard Johnson said she was unaware of the incident but promised to find out details from her social workers. However, up to press time, several attempts to reach Ms. Johnson, came up empty.
When the Survivor was asked whether she told her mother that it was the boyfriend who raped her earlier, she answered: “I only told my ma that it was her boyfriend’s friend who raped me, because if I was going to tell her it was her boyfriend, I was not going live. Because my ma and the boyfriend can take drugs, so she will not believe me if I say that kind of thing about her boyfriend,” the Survivor, breaking down in tears lamented.
The Survivor further told Madam Livingstone that she and her little brother are not safe living with their mother because of the physical abuse and drug use in their home. It was the same reason her older sister, who is now on the street, got introduced and hooked on drugs.
Madam Livingstone, whose organization REACH, is a partner to the Ministry of Gender, attempted to take the child to safety but failed, when a social worker said it was due to the alleged scuffle between Livingston and the Ministry.
As a result of the Gender Ministry’s refusal to take the victim to a safe home, the mother has taken her back to the same abuse community, leaving many to wonder, what will happen to her if the mother’s boyfriend returns and do worse?”
Livingstone, it can be recalled became a target of the Gender Ministry this week as a result of her role in last week’s rape protest.
FrontPageAfrica reported earlier this week that personnel of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection backed by the Liberia National Police (LNP) stormed the residence Livingstone’s residence to take possession of a three-year-old who was brutally raped in Gbarpolu County demanding her to turn the girl over to them.
Caretaker in Clash with Gender Ministry
Madame Livingstone told FrontPageAfrica that she refused to turn over the rape survivor as the neither the Ministry’s officials nor the police had any document to legally or officially request custody of the minor whom she had been giving medical care since the incident occurred over a fortnight ago.
The girl was entrusted to her by the Ministry of Gender, she said.
“All this while the victim been here in my care, but after our three-day anti-rape protest, Minister Tarr would send her deputies along with the police on a Sunday to my private home for a child without any paper to show. My lawyer told me not to release the child without a proper document,” said Madam Livingstone.
Madam Livingstone said the Minister of Justice Frank Musa Dean later instructed the police to vacate her premises and asked her to settle the matter in house with the Minister of Gender.
She said she’s being accused by the Minister Tarr of parading the rape survivor in the streets during the three-day anti-rape protest.
The incident involving the 13-year-old Korpo is just the latest in a long-line of assault involving girls her age going as far back as the 2007 incident involving Angel Tokpah, who was found hanging in the bathroom of her guardians, Hans Williams and Mardea Paykue, on the Old Road, Sinkor at 7:30 PM, on November 30, 2007. Just before her lifeless body was submitted for examination, members of the Liberia National Police issued a statement saying that she committed suicide, which corroborated her guardian Hans Williams’ earlier claim. However, the case was drawn into a lengthy legal saga that would later become one of the most complicated mysteries in Liberia’s history.
More recently, on June 17, this year, the Founder and General Overseer of the Community Revival Church located between Logan Town and Jamaica Road Community was arrested and charged for rape. Pastor James Kollie, age 50, was accused after his alleged rape victim’s uncle reported the case to the Women and Children Protection Section at the Liberia National Police on June 8, 2020.
Also in June, Johnson Chuluty, 36, pleaded guilty and for forgiveness as a result of his rape of his 15-year-old stepdaughter. “I am the one who did the act,” Chuluty told FrontPageAfrica shortly after he was charged with the Crime of Rape in violation of the Act to Amend the New Penal Code Chapter 14 Section 14.70, approved December 29, AD 2005 and Published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 16, 2006..
In July, this year, police in Grand Bassa County arrested and placed behind bars a 55-year-old employee of ArcelorMittal identified as Emmanuel K. Ballah for allegedly raping his 13 years old play daughter in the concession yard of ArcelorMittal. According to the victim’s mother (name withheld), the alleged act reportedly occurred after Mr. Ballah allegedly forced her daughter to have sexual intercourse with her after she had gone to received bread from him at his house. The victim was later rushed to a local health center, where it was confirmed that she had been penetrated.
In August, AUGUST 2020: Defendant Tobias Bowen, 51, was arrested on July 28, acquainted with his Miranda’s rights and investigated based upon a complaint from the Survivor’s grandfather, who alleged that the survivor, now 15, was raped by Mr. Bowen in the Bernard’s Farm Community. The defendant is currently remanded at the notorious Monrovia Central Prison awaiting trial.
In 2016, Grand Gedeh County lawmaker was at the center stage of an investigation into an alleged rape involving a 13-year-old, 4th grade girl – his niece. The rape resulted in pregnancy and a fistula for the Survivor, whose whereabout remains unknown as the parents whisked her away as a FrontPageAfrica reporter, who traveled to the county to interview the victim was in the process of interviewing her.
The alarming rise in the number of rape cases in recent months drew thousands of Liberians to stage a three-day protest last week, in a bid to draw attention to what has not been categorized by advocates as a pandemic.
Rape is the second most commonly reported serious crime in Liberia, according to statistics provided by Ministry of Gender and Social Protection and Liberia, currently ranked 177th out of 188 countries in the annual Gender Inequality Index.
The factors underlying impunity for rape in Liberia are many and include legal and institutional weaknesses, social mores and attitudes, corruption, lack of will or diligence on the part of Government officials, and logistical constraints. Liberia faces the additional challenge of having to overcome a legacy of impunity arising from 14 years of civil conflict. The World Health Organization estimated that between 61.4 and 77.4 per cent of women and girls in Liberia were raped during the war.
A review of statistics from the Bureau of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice for the months of January to June 2020 shows that more than a thousand cases of aggravated assault, sodomy, sodomy with criminal intent and rape were reported and are currently being investigated with only 22 convictions.
This week the George Weah-led government unveiled a US$6 million road map to curb the pandemic by 2022. The plan calls for the establishment of One-Stop Centers in nine counties; a Long-term operationalization of Safe Homes and referral hospitals, including mandatory Post Exposure Prophylaxis(PEP) treatments and emergency contraception for survivors) and the Call Center for reporting and referrals and the procurement of two DNA machines with accessories, among others.