More than a decade following the cessation of hostilities, Liberia teens still suffer from the peril of rape with reports in 2015 suggesting that almost 80 per cent of rape victims were under the age of 18, including at least five girls under the age of five. The UN had called for a centralized system to monitor attacks and protect witness and victims to ensure they feel protected when reporting the crime, as well as public awareness programme and specialist training for police and judges.
With the election of a female president following the civil conflict, it was widely believed the prevalence of rape would be an issue of the past, especially following the new administration’s avowed zero tolerance for rape, exemplified by passage of a New Rape Law.
Despite the policy gains made against rape, the crime seems to be gaining steam. Hot on the heels of an alleged rape of a thirteen years old involving Grand Gedeh District 2 representative Morias Waylee, the National Leadership of the National Movement to Support Boakai (NAMBO) has suspended its Lofa County Chairman, Anthony Korvah Kpadeh, on account of an allegation of rape brought against him by a 13-year old girl in the county.
NAMBO said the suspension is to afford Kpadeh the time and opportunity to focus on his legal defense to exonerate himself of the allegation.
NAMBO statement indicated that while it is too soon to cast aspersions and render any judgment, it equally will not support nor condone any acts of inhumane or degrading treatment against the children and women of Liberia.
The Movement reaffirmed its profound commitment to the national crusade against sexual and gender-based violence as well as all other forms of violence against women and children at all times, and called on all to treat the allegation of rape against Mr. Anthony Korvah Kpadeh with urgency and ensure that justice is dispensed adequately.
However, the group urged all and sundry not to condemn Mr. Anthony Kpadeh until a full scale due process is exhausted and a final verdict is derived. According to NAMBO, Mr. Kpadeh remains innocent until proven guilty, and this fundamental right of his must be upheld and respected.
For us, it is our sincere belief that allegations of rape must be treated with equal exuberance and all hands must get on desk to ensure that this menace is weeded out of our society.
We call on the accused lawmaker to immediately recuse himself from all activities of the legislature to allow for an investigation into the rape allegation. As such, justice must be seen to be dispensed impartially to all Liberians – from high and mighty individuals like Representative Waylee to ordinary citizens like student leader Varney Jersay.
Rape is everybody’s business, and when a girl is raped it is a threat to every other teen out there that is aspiring to reach their full potential. There should be no pussyfooting on the matter.