The issue of child rape and the manner in which rape cases are adjudicated remains a major challenge in Liberia. Most cases of rape occurring in Liberia particularly in the rural areas are settled out of the formal judicial system. Hence, perpetrators often get away with the crimes and the survivors are left to suffer bullying and stigmatization from the community. The dearth of evidence to address the reasons most survivors of sexual violence and their families adopt an out-of-court settlement of a criminal matter such as child rape has complicated existing literature thereby rendering attempts to provide viable solutions difficult. This research investigates the reasons for the adoption of informal adjudicatory mechanisms in resolution of child rape in Liberian rural communities and its implication on development. By adopting an empirical methodology of research, this study finds, based on acquired data, various factors that compel survivors and their families to adopt out-of-court settlement to include poverty, weak laws, delays and ineffectiveness in the court system, and vulnerabilities of survivors’ families that cause them to give in to pressure from perpetrators’ families to settle out-of-court. This study, using the social science theory of analysis identifies and explores the adverse effects of using out-of-court settlements on survivors and families, as they suffer stigmatization, withdrawal from communities, and shutting off or exclusion from normal community/social activities. This research also adopts ‘best interest of the child’ principle and restorative justice as the guiding concepts for the study.

Cheney, Kristen
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Toby, Victoria Jackson. (2021, December 17). Out-of-court settlement and sexual violence against children in Liberia. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from