MONROVIA, 19 October (IRIN) - Liberia's chief justice on Thursday rejected calls for the establishment of a special court to try rape cases following a United Nations report criticising the country's high incidence of sexual violence and its weak judicial system. "There is no need for such a court right now as our court systems can handle those cases," Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis told reporters.Oh, the sheer madness of that statement. But it figures, if you consider where Liberia falls on the evolutionary scale of women's rights:
A law passed in December [that's LAST YEAR. -Ed.] made rape illegal for the first time in Liberia - previously only gang rape was considered a crime. The new law forbids bail and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The UN report, however, said so far the law had been ignored. "Despite ... the personal commitment of the president to tackling this issue, the response of law enforcement and judicial authorities has been disappointing," said the report... It said rape suspects are regularly released on bail even where there is significant evidence indicating guilt....or the cops let them go for a small bribe, or even for free.
I spent way too much time yesterday writing a letter to the editor about this story in the Analyst, which seems to have been written to convince the reader that rape is actually not so bad. Best part:
A 97-year-old father [who has no name and no credentials AT ALL?] told The Analyst that it is only in recent time that they have begun hearing about rape cases, since cultural practices of yester-years in Liberia had seen young girls engaged to elderly men as wives with no problem in communities at all. [None!]No rebuttal to this 97-year old rape expert is offered in the article.
Besides, he cited instances of even religious practices requiring virgins to be chosen as wives, with absolutely no problem brought about following sexual intercourse. [Those 9-year-olds just skip away whistlin', do they? ]
Convincingly, [meaning that the reporter was convinced?] he urged those interested in rape cases to visit the interior of Liberia and see for themselves the "babies" who now bear children as a result of the cultural practices to which the laws will only exist in theory but will never work in practice against the way of life of the people.