Source: New Republic
The launch of Liberia's 2013 anti-rape campaign went ahead Wednesday in grand style but without the expression of disagreements on how to proceed with dealing with the problem and its cause. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie, Chief Zanzan Karwah of the National Traditional Council of Liberia had divergent views on the cause of rape and how it can be coped with.

Associate Wolokollie, in her remarks at the program on behalf of the judiciary, dissected the legal technicalities associated with the prosecution of rape cases in the absence of substantial evidence.

Very often, she said, courts dangled over cases because "at times evidence adduced is either not sufficient or immaterial to establish the gravity of the case as depicted in a lawsuit filed."

Amongst issues dived into is the involvement of hospitals in getting needed record relating to a particular incident of rape.

It was disclosed that Liberia is sending specimen from alleged rape victims to Ghana to do required laboratory testing. This is to establish the gravity of danger done to a victim during rape, and such outcome is admissible in evidence during trial.

All of these are factors that, in the view of the erudite Associate Justice, creating bottlenecks in the prosecution of rape cases across the board.

On that basis, Cllr. Wolokollie told the gathering of women and men, including President Sirleaf that she did not think it would be easy to make progress in curtailing rape at the level of the court.

Instead, she suggested that focus should be placed on a vigorous awareness campaign in communities throughout the length and breadth of the nation, meaning also that people should be educated through different means and methods.

For his part, Chief Zanzan Karwah pledged his group's commitment in spreading the message about the danger associated with rape.

He however suggested a balance in the equation in that parents should get involved in the process by stopping their girls children from engaging in indecent dressing.

Most men including women are of the conviction that indecent dress code by girls children is a principal source or case of rape.

As excellent as their concerns may be, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had a different approach.

In her remarks before the declaring the anti-rape campaign officially launched, she rebuffed the two thoughts put forth.

"Chief Zanzan Karwah, this is not about dress; this is total wickedness and must stop," the president said.

Her disagreement was also anchored in the fact that little ones as old as 7 years who are raped by men of age should be blamed on dress code.

In similar tone and fashion, she looked in the face of Justice Wolokollie and said "Madam Associate Justice, I respect your views, but we will do this through the courts."

Agreeing with previous speakers who vilified those who often involved in the rape, the president accentuated the need to deal robustly with rapists.

In apparent demonstration of her seriousness to rake Liberia of the scourge of rape and violence against women, the President proposed the application or use of unorthodox means to deal with rapists.

In instances were the court seem unable and unready to deal with rapists in line with the law, she suggested that rapists be turned over to women, but did not say to do what with them.

In concert, every speaker stressed that rape should be stopped and regarded as crime punishable by law.

This is the first anti-rape campaign to be launched in Liberia, but rape continues to rain in all corners of the country.

The Liberian government, as part of its zero tolerance to rape and sexual based violence (SBV) has made rape a non-bailable offense, but that seems a bit ineffective.

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