By Jefferson D.Tweh
The United Nations Population Fund Liberia (UNPF) Gender Officer in Liberia, Patricia Jallah-Scott, has urged young people in the country to stand up against rape in Liberia.
Madam Scott said rape is seriously damaging the future of more children in the country and therefore the youths must stand up against it.
Speaking at the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence at Young Men Take Action Against Rape Summit recently at the YMCA Building, Madam Scott disclosed that recent data revealed that in 2009, 316 cases of rape were reported, in 2012, 1,706 cases and this year over 1,300 cases have been reported.
According to Madam Scott, last year five children died from rape cases and this year 10 children have also died as a result of rape, and more than 90% of victims were children below 18 years of age.
Madam Scott explained that the perpetrators are mostly men and those perpetrators are closed relatives,neighbors,step-fathers,uncles,fathers,teachers and friends of victims as well as strangers.
“The persistence of sexual violence in Liberia especially rape is undermining girls’ enjoyment of their human rights and impacts negatively on their physical, sexual and mental health, and it also undermines National Development,” Madam Scott noted.
She said the 16 days campaign provided rights activists the opportunity to hold duty bearers to account and challenge system and structures that will allow violence against women to thrive and it emphasized the need to break silence and speak out against entrenched patriarchal systems that would help and support gender abuses such as, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, rape and sexual exploitation.
Madam Scott further stated that Liberia has decided to highlight one of the three priority areas for this year’s Campaign:”Sexual Violence During and After Conflict” from the perspective of “Men as Agents of Change in ending violence against women and girls.
Madam Scott observed that despite the attention given to this issue, sexual violence remains a major barrier to women’s safety, peace and security adding, “You will be guilty if you do not take action to stop rape and let us bring the perpetrators to justice.”