Three out of every four Liberian women have been raped, a recent survey by the London-based medical aid agency Merlin found. Young girl children are especially at risk. Claire Parker, the reproductive health coordinator at Merlin, estimates that roughly 50 percent of the nation’s reported rape victims are younger than twelve years old, The Independent reports. Parker attributes the statistic to “a traditional belief which says that if you spill the blood of a child, or take the virginity of a child, that will give you increased power.”
Africa’s first elected woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has promised to combat Liberia’s alarming rate of sexual violence with more aggressive legislation targeting rapists. She has appointed a Minister for Gender in Liberia and worked to pass a law that criminalizes gang rape.