Two-thirds of rape victims in Liberia in 2013 were children, according to an examination of 1002 cases by government authorities.

"As a result of rape 10 children from eight counties between the ages of three and 14 died during the year 2013. In some of the cases the perpetrators are still at large," the Ministry of Gender and Development told AFP.

The ministry said the low conviction rate is due in part to families who cover up rape by attackers related to their victims.

"Parents are compromising the cases because mostly the perpetrators are relatives or friends. We can say that the figure could be at least three times this if parents were not compromising," the ministry said.

The ministry also cited a shortage of protection officers to support victims and a lack of medical professionals specialising in dealing with victims.

Prosecutors do not prioritise rape in their caseloads, the ministry added.

"I am overwhelmed to see the outcome today from the women group, men group, people who are now saying no to rape but I would like to see more of the judiciary, legislature and religious groups joining this fight. This is not a Ministry of Gender Fight but a fight for the country and all of us", the Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell said.

Doctors Without Borders (DWB) reported in 2011 that 92% of females treated for rape in its Liberia facilities were under 18. A DWB study published in November said that of about 1,500 females treated in Monrovia clinics in 2008 and 2009 after rape, four out of 10 were younger than 12.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered a speech on sexual violence on Monday.

"It is shameful that this continues to mar the image of our country," Sirleaf said.

Sirleaf has overseen the enactment of harsh new rape laws, the creation of a dedicated rape court, and a women's police unit launched in 2009.
But legal mechanisms have not been enough to combat the problem: convincing women to press charges remains still a major battle.

The 14-year civil war in Liberia ended in 2003, but its consequences are still being felt in today's Liberian society.

Rape was carried out as a weapon during the conflict, and was used to terrorise and undermine communities.

Ten years after the end of the war this practice does not seem to have declined.

"For a long time we did not give rape a priority, and it goes back to certain things embedded in our culture," Minister of Justice and Attorney General Christiana Tah said.