Liberia recording weird rape cases

Monrovia- Liberia (PANA) -- Liberia's justice ministry announced that rape topped criminal cases in 2000, but the weird nature of rape cases may be even more scaring.
Terror certainly grips women and parents of girls when a 24-year old man rapes a two-year-old baby or a 39-year old guardian rapes an 85-year-old woman.
The same situation is bound to occur when a white man rapes a 10-year-old in Africa or a pastor does this to a member of his congregation.
Last weekend, a Lebanese businessman Kishakash was deported for defiling a 10-year old girl, press reports said in Monrovia Thursday.
The police nabbed the Lebanese after being alerted by the girl's parents about the criminal act, the paper said.
It did not say whether the expatriate appeared in court before deportation by the bureau of immigration and naturalisation.
Last month, a feeble 85-year-old was violated by her guardian while she slept in the suburb of Caldwell, a local radio reported here.
"Man, 24, Rapes Two Year Old Child," read the banner headline of The Inquirer in March.
The paper reported how the incident had "instilled fears in the minds of the residents of Ganta," a border town some 220 km Northeast of Monrovia.
The paper carried a photograph of the alleged rapist with his two-year-old victim in his arms.
In the same month, a police major believed to be in his 50s allegedly raped a 72-year-old detainee after her grand son escaped a police dragnet.
The old lady is reported to have bled profusely and defecated in the process and had to be rushed to the nearby hospital.
The rapist is slated for trial.
At least two pastors from different locations have appeared in court this year for allegedly raping minors who were members of their congregations in rural Liberia.
In one of the cases, the pastor was charged with "statutory rape," which under the Liberian law means having sex with a girl below 16 years, even if the act was committed with her consent.
The statutory age of consent in Liberia is 16, at which voluntary sex with a girl is acceptable under the law.
Normally, it is parents who enter into prosecution on charges of statutory rape because many girls below 16 are already having voluntary sex, even with men their father's age.
In its annual report, the justice ministry said rape topped all criminal cases in Liberia in 2000,with some 45 cases reported between November 1999 and September 2000, or an average of four cases per month.
But, according to the Association of Female Lawyers, many other cases of rape go unreported for several reasons.
The association has been given a "letter of patent" by the justice ministry to help prosecute rape cases.
The fear of stigma is one prime factor, but many families settle for payments "to cover medical bills" of the victims against the backdrop of a cash-stripped society.
Rape is a first degree felony and is bailable under the law in Liberia.

17 may 2001 14:55:00

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