The public campaign to end violence against women has come and gone but the issue of sexual violence against women is on the rise in Liberia.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor, George Sargbeh speaking recently at a news conference in Monrovia said, “the lack of sufficient evidence is an impediment to prosecuting sexual and gender-based violence.”
Mr. Sargbeh commented that his unit has only been able to prosecute 18 rape cases out of 372 reported, and also noted that more than 232 rape cases were dismissed this year for lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute.
(A young lady walks near a "RAPED" sign)
The Liberia National Police reported over 2000 sexual violence case this month apart from what the sex crimes unit is reporting.
Victim's advocate, Doris M. Saydee, who is obviously frustrated with the slow pace of prosecuting rape cases told journalists at the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Unit office in Monrovia that “sexual violence is meted against mostly women and children, and that 16 days of activism is not enough.”
Ms. Saydee however noted that when sexual violence cases are reported, the first option is to ensure that survivors seek medical attention and later undergo psychosocial therapy to help them cope in society.
According to Madam Saydee, 80% of sexual violence victims are children under age 18.
The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) Crimes Unit is an agency within the Ministry of Justice. The unit was established to monitor, investigate and prosecute criminal cases arising from incidents of sexual assaults and abuse, incest, rape, gang rape and sexual exploitation.