Liberia: 14-Yr-Old Allegedly Impregnated by Math Teacher

... But when confronted, the teacher denied the pregnancy 

Beatrice, a sixth-grader at the Grace Heritage International School had big dreams for tomorrow — to graduate from high school and possibly college — but little did she know halfway through her sixth-grade sojourn, she could be raped and impregnated.

The 14-year-old’s unexpected nightmare came when her math teacher, Anthony Mulbah, allegedly took advantage of the girl, during a rough patch with her math lesson, to rape her twice on the premises of the school campus on GSA Road, Paynesville City.

After the rape, Beatrice did not inform her parents or guardians as Mulbah, the alleged rapist, threatened to not just harm her but also give her a failing mark in the class if she dared tell anyone. Afraid, she remained mute and kept it a secret.  After a while, Mulbah returned to continue his act — the second time and he applied the same tactic — mandating Beatrice to stay behind after school let out for the day. 

When the class was empty, he began his alleged act — abusing Beatrice in her class on one of the desks. Later, according to her, he repeated the same threat as he did the first time, before letting her leave for home.

“After school, I was trying to leave but he stopped me and waited for everyone to get outside. He then closed the door, held my mouth, took off my uniform and put me on the desk, and raped me,” Beatrice whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said in an interview with Spoon TV live on Facebook.  “I am not good at math, so he said if I refused or reported him; he would not just harm me but also fail me. The raping took place twice on the school campus.

"The second one was on February 15, and on that day, many students were not on campus. When school came to close for the day, he waited for everybody to leave and then he started rubbing my skin, closed the door, and raped me on the desk again,” she said. 

However, Mulbah’s alleged rape of Beatrice came to light when the her guardian discovered that she was pregnant — a pregnancy he denied.  When Mulbah got informed about the pregnancy, Beatrice noted that he denied it and went to the extent of claiming that she said she was lying.

“When I informed him about the pregnancy, he said I was not pregnant and I should not lie to him, ” Beatrice said.

Mulbah’s alleged action is just one of the many cases in which teachers used their power and position to abuse minors sexually instead of protecting them. Individuals aged 17 or younger in Liberia 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, girls are three times the odds of experiencing transactional sex from teachers who prey on some difficulty they may be having in a particular subject,” according to a research report titled: Sexual Violence of Liberian School-Age Students: An Investigation of Perpetration, Gender, and Forms of Abuse.

Violence against children and adolescents, especially girls, is rampant, including rape, abuse, harassment, and exploitation — UNICEF reports.  The UN agency also noted that in 2015, 89 percent of reported rape survivors were children, with 39 percent 12 years or younger — saying sexual harassment in schools in the form of ‘sex for grades’ and ‘sex for school fees’ is common.

The practice of sex for a grade is often referred to as "transactional sex" — sex for grades — and it is common not only in Liberian schools but in universities also.   A 2011 survey conducted by ActionAid in three Liberian universities found that about 85% of female students had been sexually harassed or involved in transactional sex while they studied. Some women said they were forced to keep repeating classes if they refused to have sex with their male lecturers. If a woman reported her lecturer and he was sacked, the teacher would often simply move to another institution, the survey revealed.

Another study commissioned in 2014 by the Liberian government called “Passing the Test — the real cost of being a student” found that almost one in five students has been abused by teachers or school staff.

Mulbah’s alleged action mirrored that of the deceased Macintosh Johnson, who systematically raped a third of the girls attending the More Than Me Academy in West Point in 2015 with some ending up being tested positive for HIV. Johnson was a co-founder and local administrator of the More Than Me Academy and died in jail of AIDS. News of his acts came to light as a result of a documentary and report by ProPublica, a global investigative journalism group on October 11, 2018.

‘When I asked, she call math teacher name’

Beatrice who has now become one of the country’s young victims allegedly raped for grades has now been stopped from going to school, according to her mother. The mother fo the 14-year-old noted that she was informed by her sister — the victim's guardian who lives in the US that her daughter was pregnant and “when I asked her for the boy who impregnated her, she said it was her math teacher.”

Beatrice's mother noted that since her daughter's confession, they have gone to the school campus three times to see Mulbah, but every time they show up, he is not around.  However, the victim's mother noted that the most shocking part of the saga came when the principal told her daughter to stay home since she was now pregnant.

“The principal told my daughter that she should not come to school because it was disgraceful and shameful and other students will be mocking her,” she adds.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story wrong named the school as Heritage International School, instead of Grace Heritage International School.