Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stop the Rape

The United Nations is calling for the end of "widespread impunity" for sex attackers in Liberia where up to three quarters of all women and girls have been raped. Investigators said the high rates of sexual assault in Liberia were part of the legacy of the West African nation’s two civil wars, which ran from 1989 to 2003. Between 61 per cent and 77 per cent of all woman and girls in the country were raped during the conflict, according to previous research by the World Health Organisation.

A new report found that children under the age of five were among those sexually attacked last year in Liberia, where the vast majority of documented rape victims are minors. Of rapes documented by the UN in Liberia in 2015, almost 80 per cent of victims were under the age of 18, including at least five girls under the age of five. Despite more than 800 reported rapes, only 34 convictions were made for the crime in 2015, with officials warning that the assaults are vastly underreported due to widespread stigma and discrimination against victims. A report by the UN Mission in Liberia and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said rape has become the second-most reported serious crime in the country.

Victims face challenges at every step of the process if they attempt to hold their assailants criminally accountable. Families are frequently put under pressure to settle cases out of court, while most perpetrators are men known to victims as either community members or relatives, meaning women fear reporting rape over the fear of reprisals or social “shame”.

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