BY: Shallon S. Gonlor
NIMBA COUNTY – Report reaching Women Voices Newspaper alleged that police failure to investigate sexual violence deprives survivors of justice, as such, rape continues to be one of the most prevalent human rights violations in Liberia.
The report alleged that the failure of law enforcement officers to investigate rape cases and other gender-based violence, lack of protection and sufficient support for rape survivors, continued to increase rape cases arising from Nimba and other Counties of Liberia.
Women of gender-based violence and rape survivors told our Nimba County Correspondent that police in the county advised rape survivors and perpetrators to settle cases outside the scope of the criminal justice system, which only perpetuates violations of women’s human rights and impunity for rape.
In an interview, the survivors said stigma and police interference are key factors hindering the reporting of rape in Nimba.
Survivors meanwhile shared distressing experiences of both, and told this paper that many times rape cases are not reported due to fear of being disbelieved and intimidated by police investigators.
Some survivors said they were discouraged from seeking justice because of the toxic attitude of police officers towards gender-based violence and rape, which manifested in humiliating lines of questioning and victim-blaming.
They also stated that police stations often lack the space for privacy that survivors need to make their statements.
Sexual violence or sexual abuse are ways of describing any unwanted sexual act or activity against women and girls in society, while children, who are increasingly becoming targets of sexual violence, face particular challenges in reporting these crimes because of a lack of reporting process that is child-friendly.
Activists and lawyers decried the poor quality of police investigations into rape cases, in some cases, perpetrators bribe the police not to investigate their crimes.
The women and rape survivors are meanwhile calling on authorities to act now to protect women and girls from rampant sexual violence, adding that all reported cases of rape must be thoroughly, promptly, and impartially investigated and perpetrators must be prosecuted, and if convicted, sentenced with appropriate penalties inline with the provision of the Criminal Procedure Law.
Gender-based crimes are also considered to be life-force crimes as women become strategic targets for denigration and erasure in acts of war and revenge.
Such brutality has been normalised by taking gender-based violence as a given in both private and public spheres and as a coincidental outcome during episodes of aggression.
The gravity of such reprehensible crimes against women has been deflated and swept under the rug as cataloguing them into mainstream and national narratives would promote abortions and contraceptives (two highly contested reproductive rights issues in the world).