Opinion: For young Liberian rape victim, a broken system proves fatal

Kim Thuy Seelinger

Kim Thuy Seelinger directs the Sexual Violence Program at the law school’s Human Rights Center.

A 12-year Liberian girl was recently detained and allowed to die on the way to the hospital after being raped. According to Liberian newspapers, she was turned away from two health centers (including one with a gender-violence ward) because she was bleeding profusely and staff feared she had Ebola.

Why did police detain her? Why didn’t they rush her to the hospital? Why didn’t they arrest her attacker?

Kim Thuy Seelinger, who was born in Liberia, directs the Sexual Violence Program of the campus’s Human Rights Center. In that role she has interviewed dozens of Liberian nurses, police officers, lawyers, judges and community leaders about sexual violence during Liberia’s armed conflict.

In a Washington Post article, Seelinger notes that many of the problems connected with sexual violence persist today. And she lays out ideas for reform.

“There is even more at stake than justice for the girl’s family,” she writes. “The Liberian government must prove its willingness to address crimes committed in the past, lest they are repeated in the present and future.”

Read Seelinger’s Washington Post piece here.