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