Concern grows over rape cases in Liberia

United Methodists are protesting a growing wave of incidents of rape in the Brewerville community of Liberia.

Jefferson Knight, director of the Human Rights Monitor for The United Methodist Church of Liberia, and his staff led hundreds of students and residents in a July 3 protest march to register their indignation.

Chanting "we want justice, we don't want money,” the protesters moved through the streets of Brewerville calling government attention to a recent brutal rape that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old girl. “The perpetrators are still at large with all the sophisticated state security,” Knight said.

He added that the church is not going to overlook the 18 deaths that have occurred from rapes during the past four years — five deaths in 2012, 10 in 2013 and three so far in 2015, with more than 600 rape cases recorded in 2014.

The attacks undermine the peace and security of the state and hinder the holistic development of girls and women in Liberia, Knight said. “We are calling on the government through the leadership of Brewerville community to arrest and bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.”

He said the Liberian government must put in place measures that will target perpetrators of rape and arrest them in order to remove the threat posed by rapists to the lives of girls and women.

"Women are God's sacred gift to world and must be treated with respect and dignity,” he said. “They must not be subject of cruel treatment by their male counterparts.”

Knight also challenged President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is United Methodist, to increase security protection of the rights of women and girls and to ensure that the alleged perpetrators account for their crime.

The United Methodist Church of Liberia, through its human rights office, lamented the weak justice system and its failure to fast track rape cases. The church noted that the police are under legal obligation to ensure that everybody within the territorial confines of Liberia is protected, including women and girls.

The denomination’s protest statement was delivered July 3 to the City Mayor of Brewerville, Hon. George V. Curtis, who promised swift government action in bringing the recent perpetrators and all other perpetrators to justice.

The Human Right Monitor is a partner of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society. The office provides monitoring activities for The United Methodist Church of Liberia on the government and it relation to its people. Tracking and reporting on society activities; good or bad. The monitor also works on community development, such as training and construction of water wells, funded by the global United Methodist Church through it agencies.

*Swen is editor and publisher of West African Writers, an online publication about United Methodist happenings in West Africa and assists the denomination in Liberia with coverage for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Vicki Brown, newsdesk@umcom.org.

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