Thanks to the help of ARC’s legal aid program, a 52-year-old man who raped a 12-year-old girl was sentenced to life in prison on March 29 in Kakata, Liberia.
The vast majority of rapes in Liberia go unreported and unpunished, so this verdict was a huge victory for those fighting for the rights of women in the country. After the sentencing, the citizens of Kakata rejoiced. The trial had been extensively covered by the local radio station, and coverage of the verdict ran for three days straight.
ARC social workers Coocoo Kolleh and Janet Fogbawa were instrumental in bringing this case to justice. As part of ARC Liberia’s legal aid team, they work to uphold the rights of women and fight against gender-based violence. They provide psychosocial support to survivors and inform them of their legal rights. If the survivor wishes to prosecute, they guide them through the legal system with the help of local partner organizations. ARC partners in this case were local law enforcement and justice agencies and regional human rights advocacy organization Foundation for International Dignity (FIND).
According to the state prosecutor in the case, “The only way to deter rapists is to have many face the law and be found guilty.”
While it will take more than a single guilty verdict to change the history of sexual violence in Liberia, the number of rape cases brought to ARC has indeed gone down since the sentence. After receiving 47 cases from October to March, ARC has taken in just four new rape survivors from April to mid-May. Local police have also seen a decrease in rape cases during the same period.
ARC congratulates the Liberia legal aid team on this important victory!
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