In Liberia, rape has become a standard procedure, used as a tool of oppression and to instill fear. From 1989 to 2003, the Liberian civil war used mass rape as an element of warfare, affecting 3 out of 4 young girls and women. Although the war ended, the rape epidemic still continues in Liberia and has shattered the social norms of the community. Even after almost 8 years, women continue to live in fear and continue to be victims of rape.
According to Liberia’s Ministry of Justice, 40% of those raped are shockingly under the age of 12. It wasn’t until recently that these rapes were reported, however, seeking justice has never meant that justice is actually served. Olivia, now 11, was raped at the age of 6. Her and her mother are boldly pressing charges, causing them to be outcasts within their home village. The severity of Olivia’s fistula, a tear in the vaginal/anal area, has left her feeling stigmatized and unfortunately may not be surgically fixed until she is 16.
30% of cases for fistula treatment in Liberian hospitals are trauma from rape. Liberia is in desperate need of change, reports of rape, or lack thereof, has become far too common. Although Liberia is working to combat gender violence, the number of children raped post- war conflict remains overwhelming.