The Liberian Feminist Forum (LFF) has called on the government to institute psycho-social counseling for students under More Than Me (MTM), particularly those attending the Ashmun Street annex.
The LFF made the call over the weekend in Monrovia when it issued a statement expressing how deeply it was troubled by the report titled, “Unprotected,” that was released by ProPublica and Time Magazine on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
The report detailed horrific incidents of rape, sexual abuse, and exploitation of Liberian children under the care of MTM Academy in Monrovia.
“We want the government to institute measures, including revocation of MTM Academy’s accreditation, and the management of schools under Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP),” the statement said.
The LFF also called on the government to reassign all 19 public schools under the management of MTM Academy within the LEAP program.
“To appoint a trustee to take over the affairs of More Than Me (MTM) Academy’s inaugural school on Ashmun Street that is at the center of the allegation. To set up an independent investigation to review the activities of MTM in Liberia beginning from its after-school program in 2011 to the present to determine the full scope and magnitude of the organization’s activities in regards to the safety, security and welfare of these girls under their care,” the statement said.
The LFF also called on the government to demand MTM to make available key documentation to ascertain what actions were taken by the Board if any, and said the documentation should include two reports by senior staff cited in the publication of MTM Risk Management Policy and the video of the interview of McIntosh Johnson and conducted by MTM’s Founder Katie Meyler and MTM’s cameraman Holden Warren.
“To institute an oversight committee to ensure the roll-out and the implementation of the Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Policy (SEA) for NGOs and all public and private education institutions,” the statement said.
The group, however, demands a response from the Liberian government to the “Unprotected” report no later than Wednesday, October 17.
In a statement also, the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), said it is saddened by the horrifying accounts released to the public recently about how girls were sexually abused at the internationally acclaimed MTM in Central Monrovia.
FeJal said the ordeals of sexual exploitation and abuse meted out against those already vulnerable children as reported by ProPublica News Network are unimaginable that an NGO could carry a humanitarian face yet lead the targeted beneficiaries through another dark and bleak path.
“We called on the government to conduct an immediate full scaled investigation into this report so as to rid the survivors of the nightmare and find closure to the hurts that they have carried for so many years in public glare in the name of seeking assistance for a better future,” FeJAL said.
FeJAL’s statement added, “We are deeply concerned about the well-being of the girls therefore as a media advocate for girls and women in Liberia, we are calling on the government to engage the founder of MTM, Katie Meyler, through her home country to ensure that her NGO is not only ordered shut down immediately but the license given her to run 20 public schools under the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP) program is revoked without further delays.”
FeJAL wants the government to ensure that she is charged, prosecuted and takes full responsibility for the damaged lives and especially for those who are allegedly infected by HIV.
“We demand that government goes a step further by investigating how staffers are recruited so as to relieve the entire board and turn the school over to the Ministry of Education,” FeJAL said.
“We are concerned about the safety of the survivors and students and call on the government to take appropriate actions to ensure that these girls and their families receive medical and psycho-social support so as to ease their pains and they must be protected as they go through unnecessary public attention,” the statement said.