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Liberia: Rape Now a ‘National Emergency’, President Declares

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By Hannah N. Geterminah

Barely three weeks after hundreds of Liberian got in the streets of Monrovia, demanding for President George M. Weah to declare rape a ‘national emergency,’ the Liberian leader has finally issued a proclamation to that effect.

According to a press release from the Executive Mansion, issued Friday afternoon, the President made the bold move following the successful conclusion of a 2-day National Anti-Rape and Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Conference that was convened by the government to validate the National Roadmap on Rape and SGBV, produced by the Inter-ministerial taskforce set up by him a few weeks ago.

At the end of the national stakeholders’ conference on September 9 and following the receipt of the communique derived from deliberations at the conference, the release said, President Weah, the self-declared Feminist-In-Chief, promised that his administration would move with deliberate speed to ensure that the recommendations presented would be judiciously and expeditiously addressed.

“The declaration of the National Rape Emergency on Friday, September 11, 2020, which has come barely two days out of the national anti-rape conference held on September 8-9, 2020, fulfilled that promise of the President and his zero tolerance stances on rape and SGBV,” the release said.

“Under the National Rape Emergency,” the release said, “President Weah declared initial measures that include the appointment of a Special Prosecutor for rape; the setting up of a National Sex Offender Registry; the establishment of a National Security Taskforce on SGBV, and the allotment of an initial amount of US$2 million to beef up the fight against rape and SGBV in the country.”

Women at the just-ended anti-rape conference in Monrovia

The release said the President, following the issuance of the proclamation, said his administration would spare no effort in ensuring that the rape and SGBV pandemic scourging the country is curtailed.

President Weah said additional measures would be announced subsequently, including Executive Orders to protect the vulnerable and to ban harmful traditional practices.

He urged all Liberians, activists, as well as local and international stakeholders to work with government to defeat rape and SGBV in the country.

It may be recalled that, from August 25 to 27, 2020, hundreds of protesters gathered in Monrovia to petition the Government of Liberia to strengthen the justice system to allow rape survivors to get justice and put to end the harmful act against women, girls, and boys.

From August 25 to 27, 2020, hundreds of protesters gathered in Monrovia to petition the government to take decisive action against rape and other forms of SGBV.

The organizers, on September 2, said they intended to return to the streets in the next three weeks if President Weah refused to declare Rape a ‘National Emergency.’

“We will mobilize social forces to return to the streets within three weeks. If the government does not take concrete steps to end this rape pandemic, we will be forced to return to the streets to demand solution. We need solutions now and there is no joke about this,” said Natalyn Omell Beh, one of the protest planners.

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Bai Best

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