PLEEBO, Maryland – Police in Pleebo have arrested 18-year-old James Julutoe for raping his nine-year-old cousin in the Camp Five community in Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District.
Speaking in an interview with The Bush Chicken, the survivor’s mother, who preferred to remain anonymous, said she had left her daughter home on Sunday, November 25 and gone for a church service. When she returned home, she met her daughter in a pool of blood.
“When I saw the blood running down her foot, I quickly called for help and some community dwellers came to my rescue and called the hospital people to carry her,” the mother said. “By then, she was helpless.”
The victim confirmed her mother’s story and explained that Julutoe had called her into a room when her mother was not around, placed her on the bed, and took off her clothes before raping her.
She said she immediately started bleeding and he told her to leave the room, as she had blood running down her legs. She said she was instructed to say she had been injured while running and falling.
Meanwhile, medical examination conducted confirmed that the survivor was raped and needed serious medical attention that cannot be supplied within Maryland. Medical officials, who spoke to The Bush Chicken anonymously, said the girl’s reproductive organs were severely damaged and said she needed to receive better treatment or risk being crippled for life or being unable to have children.
The victim’s parents are calling on humanitarian organizations to assist their daughter in seeking proper medical attention.
The county monitor of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, S. Boniface Nyema, has condemned the act and described it as inhumane. He challenged the court to ensure a speedy trial.
He has also promised that his office would contact other humanitarian organizations to seek their aid in getting the survivor better medical care.
When contacted in police detention, the alleged perpetrator denied the accusations and said the survivor was lying on him. He also said he had never interacted with the victim at home, despite the family connection.
“I feel this is my bad luck time because I am innocent of what that girl is saying and even surprised,” Julutoe said.
However, even as he made these statements of denial, he was simultaneously crying and pleading for forgiveness.
The alleged rapist, an eighth-grade student at Sodoken High school in Pleebo, has been remanded at the Harper Central Prison, as he awaits court trial.
The shocking news of the rape comes amid the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
In Monrovia, Yacoub El Hillo, the U.N.’s resident coordinator in Liberia, joined the November 26 program marking the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
“Violence is a moral affront to all women and girls, and to us all, a mark of shame on all our societies, and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,” El Hillo said, speaking at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
At its core, the U.N. envoy noted that violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect. The failure of men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women is an issue of fundamental human rights, he said.
“We live in a male-dominated world and women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal,” he said.
El Hillo pointed out that unequal laws governing inheritance, custody, and divorce can discriminate against women. Additionally, he said when societies narrow women’s access to financial resources and credit, they impede a woman’s ability to leave abusive situations.
According to the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, 1,484 SGBV cases have been reported so far this year – 592 cases more than what was reported in 2017. According to the ministry, 971 of the cases were rapes, including 877 of the cases perpetrated against underage girls. It says sexual violence also accounted for nearly 70 percent of cases reported last year.
“We need to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators of violence against women and girls accountable,” El Hillo said.
He said society needs to go beyond holding perpetrators of violence accountable; it is also imperative to undertake the challenging work of transforming the structures and cultures that allow sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence to happen.
El Hillo said the U.N. was continuing to invest in life-changing initiatives for millions of women and girls worldwide through the U.N. Trust Fund to end violence against women, which is currently seeking proposals for up to US$1 million.
He said the fund focuses on preventing violence, implementing laws and policies and improving access to vital services for survivors.
As the largest ever single investment in eradicating violence against women and girls worldwide, El Hillo said the initial contribution would address the rights and needs of women and girls across 25 countries and five regions.
“It will empower survivors and advocates to share their stories and become agents of change in their homes, communities, and countries,” he added.
A significant portion is expected to target civil society actors, including those that are reaching people often neglected by traditional aid efforts.
Featured photo by Olivier Asselin/UNICEF. Zeze Ballah contributed to this article.