-VP Taylor Rallies Citizenry Against Sexual Criminals
Violence and other criminal acts against women, in addition to gender inequality, discrimination and harmful traditional practices targeting females, considerably, speedily increased in Liberia, particularly during and after the civil crisis. To curb this phenomenon, the Government of Liberia and its partners passed legislations, including for instance making rape unbailable. But it appears this upped sentence for the crime, which others are contesting with a counter bill now pending at the Lower House, is hardly serving as the rightful collateral remedy and needs to be made harsher. This is so because, incidents of gender-based violence, including rape, continue to spiral out of control. This has drawn the attention of one of Liberia’s outstanding feminists, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, who last week alarmed and lamented the woes of violence against women, and is rallying Liberians to join the advocacy for increased punishments for perpetrators.
The abuse of women and girls has become a new normal in the country, with no day coming to pass without reports that one woman or another, usually minors, being raped and subjected to cruel actions by men. It appears the present increased advocacy and public condemnation and attempts to make rape an unbailable offense are not working to reduce attacks on women and girls in Liberia.
Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is intently concerned, and has come to the conclusion that more actions, particularly increasing penalties against perpetrators would turn the tide.
In a statement, the Liberia Vice President who is a noted campaigner for gender equality and against gender based violence, said she is overwhelmed by huge numbers of SGBV incidents currently over taking “our national sphere, ranging from physical and mental abuse to rape and murder.”
The Liberian Vice President said while many grapple with the question of why this is happening, and what to do about it, “more of our daughters and in some instances, babies are being raped on a daily basis.”
She added: “Each of us—mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and yes, some fathers—must be enraged by these acts which totally destroy the lives of our sisters and daughters.”
VP Taylor wonder what can be done by Government, the citizens and partners of Liberia to bring to an end this growing incident against women and girls.
She asked: “the question could be: What could be the punishment for this heinous act perpetrated upon our loved ones? Could it be castration, life imprisonment or the death penalty? Would any of these punishments make up for the destruction of innocent lives? Or the irreparable damage to the bodies of victims? Or the sorrowful hidden cries of the mothers of the victims? Or the unanswered questions in the eyes of our young children of ‘why me’?”
In the thinking of the Liberian Second in Command, “I would say nothing done after the fact could repair the damage inflicted, but it could sever as starting point for the healing process.”
Madam Taylor contends that no man who rapes a child or a woman deserves to be free or given the freedom to live a normal life.
“What I do know is that every society must make up its mind about how to handle its most grievous crimes, especially against those who are unable to speak or defend themselves,” she stressed further. “I, today, amplify my voice to the campaign, calling for an end to rape in our society.”
She pledged her unwavering support to the call for ‘life imprisonment’ for individuals convicted of raping a woman over 18 years of age; and a harsher PENALTY for those guilty of RAPING girls under 18 years of age.
“We are not in ordinary times, so desperate times calls for desperate measures,” she emphasized, and added: “Severe punishment for heinous crimes should serve as a deterrent to perpetrators; as it shows society’s rejection and unacceptability of the criminal actions.”
The Vice President therefore called on the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia to submit an amendment to the Law on Rape that will increase the penalties therefrom.
She said the call is “just and right, to end actions of RAPE against our women and girls.”
“I also call on the Movement for One Liberia to establish community based activities across the country, to create awareness and set up watch teams to keep watch over our daughters and sisters; and blow the alarm before a rape is committed.”
Last but not least, VP Taylor said, “I call on ALL Liberians to begin to Name and Shame those who are predators on our young daughters and sisters, treating them as sexual partners and sexual slaves.”
She averred that in next few days, she would be engaging relevant stakeholders at all levels of our society, not just to join the conversation, but to lend their energies for concrete and effective actions, which could go from information dissemination to Safe Homes to Legal Representation and advocate for the maximum punishment.
“It is my prayer, that this will be a rallying call to ALL Liberians not just only to Women, but also to our fathers,” she concluded. “Sons and brothers: join this campaign to STOP RAPE. WE CAN NO LONGER STAND ASIDE AND WAIT FOR THE JUSTICE SYSTEM. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! WE MUST ACT NOW!!!!”