More than Placards: The Truths about Sexual Violence in Liberia

It’s good, I mean perfect, that we wear all black and march through the streets, lifting up our placards to raise awareness on the problems we cause ourselves. It’s important that we speak up against the acts we ignorantly orchestrated.

The mere writings embedded on those placards and the mass gathering of aggrieved citizens calling for justice are not enough, but it is amongst the first steps in solving this problem of gender-based violence and sexual abuse in Liberia. It is never just enough to only speak up in the fight to curb the issues of sexual abuse that are often swept under the rug.

Let us face the truth: When was the last time any one of us talked to a girl and asked her about her social life? When was the last time we offered mentorship to a young lady and led her to opportunities that might better her life?

It is wrong that they say rape is a culture in Liberia? Then how about those parents covering up for their so-called brothers and family members when our girls are harassed, abused, and left to go through those traumas? The silence heard after is deadlier than the last bullet in a soldier’s gun, yet we expect that by protesting, we can bridge an abyss that is deeper than an average grave.

When was the last time you went to West Point, or any other community where teenaged girls are so vulnerable that their desperation for education and other social amenities is at their detriments? When was the last time you visited a government school in your community? When was the last time you gave to girls who can’t afford necessities like sanitary pads, books or pens? When was the last time you offered a word of encouragement to another young person you did not know or aren’t related to? You may wear black to stand in solidarity with victims or to just be  “in the fries,” but either way, that should only be the beginning to the solution of this problem.
Now, after these protests, what’s laying in the future? Rocket science is not needed to show that we want justice, and that’s fair enough, but I would argue for the precautions we’re putting in place so as not to allow this mishap manifest again in the upcoming generation of young men.  Have we done this? Or this is just another trip on this merry-go-round where we pretend like we care for these girls and all other girls who have or will be abused?

This is not the first time a sexual abuse like this has happened, and neither is it going to be the last (something I do not pray for) until we put our houses in complete order. How about those high profiles gang rapists? The recent rape scandal about the big boy who raped and damaged the 13-year-old? We did march but what happened? How about the senior student leader who’s walking around today with flying colors? I thought rape was non-bailable in our justice system regardless of the recent amendment to make rape bailable? What measures have we put in place to stop these heinous crimes? This should be our focus right now as we protest- we should start to work with the important institutions to instigate the necessary frameworks that will stop sexual abuse.

For the mothers, have you taught your son to respect women to the point that you trust he won’t ever rape no matter what his feelings tell him? If no, teach him now! If you’re a father and sleeping with sweet 16’s and girls around your children’s age, don’t you know the implications? Imagine if that girl was your daughter? Can you think about her future? If you don’t, now is the time, better late than never; REFRAIN!

We have failed as a people, this much is obvious. Where’s our justice system? A dollar is the magnitude equivalent of a judge’s verdict. Then the question begs, are we safe? Are our girls?

This is a wake-up call to all us that we, every one of us Liberians, are authors of our misfortunes. Until we realize this and change this narrative by championing causes geared toward benefitting the lives of the ordinary and the most vulnerable in our country instead of awaiting foreign ‘do-gooders,’ and support locals striving to make changes and impacts, we’re just making BLUFF!

Very lastly, whether you learned how to belt your trousers from the shores of Harper, or the Mounts of Nimba and Lofa, or the cluster beaches of Monrovia, firmly note this: KEEP YOUR ZIPPERS UP; RAPE IS NOT A LIBERIAN CULTURE, IT’S A UNIVERSAL CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!


Featured Picture by The Wireless

Authored by Vermon Washington 

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Facia Harris says:

    I protested in black and will do again and again. The questions about when was the last times…….I/we do every day and will continue to do so… make some time and speak to people who hold placards. When was the last time you went beyond the pen? Should we say this article is also a BLUFF?

    1. Vermon Washington says:

      I understand your point, this is not about fostering impunity, that’s misleading the aim of this article. My assertion in this article accepts and sides that we should protest and it’s right that we demand justice but my argument is what precautions are we laying in place? If you reread this article clearly without emotions, you’ll realize that we’re on par, but you just can’t accept the fact the we should champion our own causes and support our locals. These taboo topics will shift the conversations and enable change.

  2. This is a great piece that reminds us of a very serious challenge in our communities. What is even better is that it outlines practical actions in terms of the way forward and invites us to grow from just talking to taking concrete and transformative steps. And a significant portion of the action plan is to intentionally spread this article like wide country fire.

    Blessings Vermon. Keep up the good work…

  3. Victoria Pedro says:

    This article is more than a bluff and it actually doesn’t say anything. U don’t have the right to judge the people wearing black and holding placards until you are actually doing something to right the wrong.

    1. Vermon Washington says:

      This is not about being right or wrong, in fact, there was no judgment made in this article. This article capulates the facts and current trends of our approach to sexual abuse in Liberia. However way, it’s not fostering our actions rendered, it exposes a problem and hindsight a way forward that we all should look at… If you reread this, you will understand that it is very important that we yield to these strategies set forward if we’re to take a leap forward in finding tangible solutions to the problem.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Really? When was the last time YOU….? Look in the mirror!

  5. Aaron Ireland says:

    I wouldn’t want to say this article is bluff or the ideas push in the article i not of relevant, but my thinking here is; Vermon everyone will do not have to go to west point or visit of the victims if SGBV before you realize people are against and want to do something about the situation. In my free opinion the placards is very necessary and will continue to be raise until something is done. You should be aware that the only choice people have is to take on placards which serves as a called unto to authorities about the increasing rates of the sexual violence in our country. Yes! i agree that Rape is not a culture or custom but around the world in many parts of the world people carry placard calling a STOP to violence, country of well structure policy but is it not still occurring? Yes it is . is progress being made to strengthen the system? yes. is where we want it to be? NO. so we will keep raising the placards until something is done.

  6. Aaron F. Debah says:

    Thank you Vermon and all others for the articulation of your opinions.That’s how it should be, no profanity.
    For me the article makes a lot of sense. I also think the lifters of placards for awareness against rape are also doing marvelously well because the matter needs to be heard about continuously.
    One thing I would like to prover here is for us to be more engaging with our leaders, for they are morally obligated to serve. We can use the national and international laws to hold our leaders responsible and pressurized them to work harder to mitigate the matter.
    The coordinating efforts of everyone is well needed.
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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