Gbarnga, Bong County – Stakeholders in Liberia have recommended castration and even execution for men who rape in Liberia.
The stakeholders, including Ministry of Internal Affairs, Carter Center, National Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia, UNMIL and women leaders, made the decision when they convened at the Gbarnga City Hall, Bong County to attend a three-day conference.
The conference discussed the prevalence of domestic violence especially rape, land tenure and elections.
Over 200 traditional chiefs and elders, women groups and women in leadership crafted a resolution to be presented to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“They all agreed and signed that the government amend the law on rape to allow for castration of convicts. Also that any person convicted of the rape of a baby should be executed
And that the punishment for rape should be in different categories, from 0- 10 years, death penalty and rape of 10 -17 years old, the convict should be sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, while anyone found compromising rape case should be sentenced to 5 years imprisonment,” Minister Tokpa said.
Commenting on rape and gender based violence, Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Asatu Baar Kenneth said the issue of rape was everybody’s business, and she called on women to report rape.
She also discouraged women from compromising rape in the family way.
“We now have the Women and Children Division at the Police depots around the country for women to be able to speak without being embarrassed in front of a male Policeman,” Kenneth.
“And since this division was established, rape cases are not being reported, this is why people are saying that rape cases are many, but the cases are not many, but they were not reported in the past, so people did not know,” she concluded.
Dialogue to Mitigate Problems
Many chiefs agreed with the idea of meeting to discuss societal issues because they, too, have observed that things and times have changed in that during their days, they did not see old men raping babies.
They did hear about husbands killing their wives and did not see anything pertaining to child rights or human rights issues, they said.
The chiefs recalled that during their days, a child was trained by community, when he or she did wrong and not just by the parents.
But they have noticed that when anyone wants to correct a child, the parents brings about human rights, so for this reason children are loose and do not respect the older people.
Women Decry Land Issues, Citizenship
Some of the women attending the conference said the Land issue is contentious causing problem for many of them in the rural area.
The women said some of them have tribal land deeds, customary lands and ancestral land they got from their forefathers, which they claimed is creating a problem.
“My grandfather once had a land that he planted cocoa on, but now I want to survey the land the village people are saying no."
"I should not do it because the land is not mine, but was only used by my grandfather at the time,” said Korpu Flomo, of Gbarpolu County.
Carter Center also brought in speakers to educate the traditional people about several other issues like including citizenship."
"Some chiefs and women, who have children by foreigners, expressed concern over the citizenship of their children and other issues pertaining to acquiring citizenship in Liberia.
But BIN deputy commissioner Kenneth told the participants that acquiring citizenship is procedural.
“Citizenship is not an overnight thing, if you have a child that is not a Liberian, you have to get the code of allegiance, but if you do not get it before the child is 18, in order to be citizen,” Kenneth.
The BIN Deputy Commissioner explained to the women the process of acquiring a citizenship, while using her personal experience.
“Once you [bear] your children here and you do not fix your papers, your children will not work in the government."
"I am an example of that, because my father is Fulla and my Mother is a Liberian, but if my father had not fixed his papers, do you think I would have had the opportunity to work in government?” She asked rhetorically.
Kenneth said she would deny any Fulla national who would want to obtain citizenship by beating the system and identifying with her as a Fulla.
“Most of the foreigner men have paper, but their wives do not have their papers. Why fix your papers and you do not fix your wives’ papers? Citizenship is each and every one of us concern.”
The Carter Center Chief of Party Pewee Flomoku said the organization’s focus is the development of peace, but, he added that it would not have happened without the partnership UNMIL.
“We thank our Partner UNMIL for making this program a success. We are here today for the recommendation from the chiefs and women.
Carter Center will support you in your efforts. We do not want to hear that a two or three year old child was raped but about we would like to hear about development. So that Liberia will be part of other countries who respect women rights and the rule of law,” said Flomoku.
Wladimar Very, Deputy SRSG for the rule of Law, said UNMIL was happy to work along with Carter Center and other partners to find a way to get the chiefs and women involved in discussing issues of violence against women.
“We saw a need to address violence against women, including rape and harmful traditional practices that are against women’s rights. And I can see that you people are working together, which is a progress."
"I am also happy for the level of progress you are making in discussing things that affect your women. We stress the need that peace prevails in Liberia and from what I see, that peace is already prevailing,” said Deputy SRSG Very.