LAST WEEK’S STONE throwing and running battle between anti-rape protesters and riot officers of the Liberia National Police that led to the coming into the street of ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to join protesters in solidarity over the increasing wave of rape across the country when in fact, President George Manneh Weah out-rightly refused to meet with the protesters despite their demand clearly indicates who is the real chief feminist for Liberia.
FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE days last week protesters, including little girls as old as five, six and seven years marched from the Monrovia suburb of Vamoma House to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to present a petition to President Weah against endemic rape in the country. They had insisted to give the petition to the President himself, but Mr. Weah did not come out in spite of their demand.
AND SO WHEN it became very obvious that they won’t see President Weah at his official office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the protesters decided on the last day of their campaign to instead, go to Mr. Weah’s residence in Rehab community along the Robertsfield highway outside Monrovia, but armed riot police brutally prevented them, save the appearance of former President Sirleaf, who met with the crowd predominantly women and young girls and expressed solidarity.
HOW DISAPPOINTING IT has been that President George Weah, who some time ago, declared himself as Liberia’s chief feminist, could not come out to meet women with bleeding hearts, lamenting over the wave of brutal abuse of their babies, daughters and sons sexually by evil men whose ages range from 20 to 50 and above.
BEING A WOMAN, mother and grandmother herself, Ms. Sirleaf heard the wailing of protesters in the street and she came out to identify with them in their grieve over an act that is rapidly destroying future wives, mothers and husbands of the land, while the self-declared chief feminist [President Weah] sent emissaries upon emissaries with excuses that the President couldn’t be there himself over a situation that has become very alarming in the country.
LIBERIANS NEED NOT to look any farther to know who the true chief feminist is for the country. We know that President Weah is a very busy leader or so he ought to be. But taking out at least 10 or 15 minutes of his busy schedules to have come to receive protesters’ petition, especially when they had insisted so, would have worth the effort and demonstrated that the ‘Father’ and “Chief Feminist” of the Land is in empathy with their struggle to seek justice.
INSTEAD, WHAT THEY got were bruises, scars and allegedly broke limbs as a result of Police heavy-handedness to stifle and quiet their voices. What a paradox in a land that is supposedly presided over by a leader who prides himself as chief feminist! Is it mere title or does President Weah really care about issues that confront women of Liberia?
BETWEEN EX-PRESIDENT SIRLEAF and President George Weah we can clearly see that it is not about self-title but demonstrated actions to match the title, for actions speak louder than words. By Thursday evening last week, Madam Sirleaf was on the BBC, acknowledging the endemic rape in the country and suggesting what could be or needs to be done to addressing the problem. That’s the mark of a true leader.
ON THE CONTRARY, the current administration is politicizing everything and suspicious of everybody, even grieving women and girls protesting for their own lives in the streets. Who should provide them security, if not the government they elected at the ballot box? President Weah should know that he has a duty to ensure the peace, security and happiness of the people at all times.
MR. WEAH MISSED a great opportunity to demonstrate political leadership by his refusal to meet with protesting women and girls and receive their petition over a situation that is portraying Liberia negatively under his watch. We wonder whether the President understands the consequences of his reluctance or sheer inaction over a cruel crime such as rape and abuse of women and girls.