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LIBERIA: State Department Alarms Over Violence Against Liberian Children

 In its 2022 report, the United States State Department attention has alarmed over the state of the Liberian children, making specific reference of child abuse, early and forced marriage for young girls, which has been described as not doing much to curtail such act.

In its report, the US State Department affirms, noting “That the Liberian law  provides for children to be protected from abuse, but it was not effectively enforced. Child abuse was a widespread and persistent problem, and there were numerous cases reported throughout the year, including of sexual violence against children. The government engaged in public awareness campaigns to combat child rape”, the report asserted.

On child early and forced marriage, despite the Liberian laws regarding minimum age for marriage are inconsistent, setting the minimum marriage age for all persons at either 18 or 21, the report also noted, “But also permitting girls to marry at age 16. According to UNICEF, in 2020, the most recent data available, 9 percent of girls were forced to marry before age 15 and 36 percent before age 18.

On the issue of sexual exploitation of children, the report said despite the law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. A 2021 amendment to the law strengthened penalties for child sex trafficking offenses and removed the requirement to demonstrate elements of force, fraud, or coercion. Authorities generally enforced the law, although girls continued to be exploited, including in commercial sex in exchange for money, food, and school fees. The minimum age for consensual sex is 18, and statutory rape is a criminal offense that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Sexual abuse was a pervasive problem in secondary schools, with many teachers forcing girls to exchange sexual favors for passing grades. Orphaned children remained particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Infanticide, including Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: There were no known reports of infanticide. According to a report by the African Child Policy Forum, there were some ritual attacks against children with disabilities who were accused of witchcraft (see also Persons with Disabilities).

Institutionalized Children: Regulation of orphanages continued to be very weak, and many lacked adequate sanitation, medical care, and nutrition. The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection did not monitor orphanages to ensure provision of basic services. Orphanages relied primarily on private donations and support from international organizations. Many orphans received little or no assistance.

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