Saturday, September 12, 2020

Liberia declares rape a national emergency


                   Liberian President George Weah

Liberian President George Weah has declared rape a national emergency and has ordered new measures to tackle the problem after a recent spike of cases in the poor West African state.

The moves comes after thousands of Liberians protested rising incidents of rape in the capital Monrovia last month, in a bid to draw attention to the country’ s alarming rate of sexual assault .

Late on Friday, Weah said he would install a special prosecutor for rape in Liberia, as well as set up a national sex offender registry, a statement from his office said .

The government will also establish a so -called “ national security task force ” on sexual - and gender -based violence.

The high rates of rape in impoverished Liberia, forced to contend both with war and the Ebola virus in recent years , has been a longstanding concern.

A UN report in 2016 recorded 803 rape cases the previous year in the country of 4. 5 million, and found that only two percent of sexual violence cases led to a conviction, for example .

It was the resulting sense of impunity and the legacy of the 14-year civil war between 1989 and 2003, when rape was commonplace, that had created the current problem , it said .

Incidents of rape appear to have risen sharply this year , however .

Margaret Taylor , the director of Liberia’ s Women Empowerment Network, told AFP last month that her NGO had recorded 600 cases of rape between June and August , for example .

That was up from between 80 and a hundred cases in May , she said .

Weah’ s announcement of a national rape emergency follows a conference in the capital Monrovia on tackling sexual violence on Wednesday .

Addressing the meeting , the footballer-turned-president said Liberia was “ witnessing what is actually an epidemic of rape within the pandemic , affecting mostly children and young girls across the country . ”

Weah ’ s office said in the statement on Friday that further anti -rape measures will be announced.


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