Education Minister Soni, What Are You Doing about Rape in Liberian Schools?

Education Minister, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii.

There is a repeated practice of rape in Liberian schools.  The latest victim has been a 14-year-old sixth-grader at the Grace Heritage International School on GSA Road in Paynesville.  She was ordered by her Math teacher, named Anthony Mulbah, to remain on campus when all the other students had left for home.

There he threatened to harm her and fail her if she refused, then raped her in one of the classrooms.  He dared her to tell anyone about what he had done.

This unscrupulous and criminal teacher repeated his act on February 15.  The poor, frightened little girl remained silent about what had happened to her until her guardian discovered she was pregnant.  The child informed Mulbah of the pregnancy and he told her she was lying and claimed to have had nothing to do with it. 

Our reporter, Tina Mehnpaine, said Mulbah’s alleged action is just one of the many cases in which teachers use their power and position to abuse minors sexually instead of protecting them.  Individuals in Liberia aged 17 or younger are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.

“Yet,” said Reporter Mehnpaine, quoting a research report entitled ‘Sexual Violence of Liberian School-Age Students: An Investigation of Perpetration, Gender, and Forms of Abuse’, “girls are three times the odds of experiencing transactional sex from teachers who prey on some difficulty  their students may be having in a particular subject.”

This cannot and should not continue!    Something must be done to stop this wanton abuse of our young girls and women — indeed often our boys and young men, too — by immoral and unscrupulous individuals, men and women alike.

We call on the Minister of Education and indeed the heads of all educational institutions to closely watch the behavior of instructors, professors, teachers, and others in authority, to ensure that they are aware of the critical responsibility they are charged with managing the young people they are called to lead, manage, supervise and teach in the various institutions of learning.

Not every teacher is aware of his or her critical role in the educational sector.  We call on all Teacher Training Colleges, the Ministry of Education, and all other institutions that are responsible for training teachers to stress the ethical and professional responsibilities of those who want to be teachers.  It is not enough to emphasize “Instructional Technology” or “Educational Methodology”—or teaching teachers how to teach.  Equally important is the ETHICAL nature of the work, exemplifying proper behavior on the job.  In other words, it is not enough to know your stuff, to be academically prepared to teach. 

Even more important is for the instructor, professor, or teacher to have a profound sense of ETHICS — which means conscience, beliefs, integrity, morals, and principles.  Great is the teacher who can exemplify these attributes and impart or relate them to the students.  Students remember their teachers and professors not only because of what they know and what they teach, but how they do it, what they stand for and what principles they become known to espouse.  

What did teacher Mulbah expect his student to tell her parents and friends when she returned home?  Did he really expect her to remain silent?  Not possible.  No child or student treated so criminally by a teacher — or anyone else — can keep silent about such a serious atrocity (evil) that he or she has experienced.  And who can fail to realize the biological possibility of a sexual encounter between a man and a woman?  There is always the possibility of pregnancy.

That is exactly what happened in Mulbah’s case.  He told the child not to tell anyone, but he forgot—or did he ever think of the reality and power of sperm?  It is only a matter of time before sperm expresses its reality — the belly of the recipient can in time become bigger, which means pregnancy!  

That is what happened to Mulbah’s student — but, far, far more sadly and tragically — to himself.  He has failed as a teacher, and not only that; he has become criminally involved in his evil behavior toward his student.

We wait to see the reaction of the Minister of Education.  Will you all let this man go free, continue to teach and thereby endanger the lives and futures of other students?

Liberia waits to see what happens, how the Ministry of Education under Mr. Sonii will react.