Thirteen-year-old Watta, not her real name, never thought that doing a favor for a family friend would subject her to rape, not until she obeyed an instruction to carry food into the alleged perpetrator’s room and encountered her worst nightmare.

Little Watta was allegedly raped by Journalist Ibrahim Ganda, Station Manager of Radio Vahun, who is currently on the run. She is one among several little girls who are usually violated by close family friends or relatives, crimes that often go unreported due to the perception that the Liberian National Police (LNP) demands money from parents when they report rape cases. Such reports are considered a crime, according to LNP Press and Public Affairs Officer Moses Carter, who confirmed hearing such complaints via mobile but has never been able to catch any policeman in the act.

According to the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection’s annual statistical report on gender-based violence (GBV), there were 1,975 reported cases in 2022, with 73.7% being rape, sexual assault, and other forms of sexual violations.

The survivor’s father, in a conversation with journalist Mason Kollie, stated that he did not initially know his daughter had been raped. He became concerned when he noticed her walking in an unusual way and asked her what was wrong. She told him she had fallen and hurt her left leg and hand. However, after taking her to a bone herbalist and seeing no improvement, he consulted a nurse who revealed that she had been raped. In a private conversation, the daughter identified Ganda as the perpetrator, stating that he had sent her to buy rice and followed her into his room to commit the crime. The father then reported the case to the police.

According to the police investigation, on Thursday, August 3, 2023, at about 10:00 am, accused Abraham Ganda asked little Watta to buy him food. Upon her return with the food, Ganda instructed her to carry it into his room, where he followed her, locked the door, and assaulted her, as explained by Watta to the police.

In a WhatsApp message exchange between Ganda and media colleague Mason Kollie, provided to FPA by He For She Crusaders Lofa coordinator BoakaiYamahJr, Ganda vehemently denied all allegations of raping the child. He stated, “The news about me is not true at all; it’s a total conspiracy. Not a day in my life have I done that and will never do it. I left Vahun because I do not want to go to jail for a crime I did not commit. We have seen people lose their lives in such cases. Brother, I didn’t do it, I will be out until the truth is revealed.” Ganda further asserted that his call log can prove that he was busy from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the day of the incident.

Ganda is said to be a correspondent of Liberia State Radio ELBC, but Radio station Manager Estelle Liberty Kermoh refutes claims that he has been in their employ for the past few months.

Women’s Rights Activist Atty. Facia Harris expressed her hope that the police find Journalist Ganda so that he can be investigated and, if found guilty, face the full weight of the law. She emphasized that being a journalist should not exempt anyone from investigation.

When contacted via mobile, President Elect of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Mr. Daniel Nyakonah, stressed that the PUL believes in zero tolerance for rape and promotes the rights of women and girls. He called on the Liberia National Police to arrest the alleged perpetrator and ensure a thorough investigation. If found guilty, Ganda should face the full consequences of the law, Nyakonah added.

After the child was taken to the police, He For She Crusaders Liberia Gender Coordinator Mrs. Garmai Partee Geleplay urgently transported the survivor and her parents to Kolahun Hospital, where she is currently receiving medical treatment.

While He For She Crusaders Liberia Lofa County Coordinator Boakai Yamah Jr confirmed that Ganda is still on the run, civil society organizations are assisting the police in their efforts to locate the alleged perpetrator and bring him to justice.

By Mae Azango – TV

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