… over government-sanctioned brutality against anti-rape protesters
After coming under direct criticism by Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, during the anti-rape protests that took place last week in Monrovia, Gender and Social Protection Minister, Williametta Piso Saydee Tarr, has sharply reacted to Madam Gbowee, referring to her (Gbowee) as a generational underminer instead of a good or seasoned advocate well positioned to help bring about change or progress to the many ideas aimed at improving women’s lives and letting them have a safe country void of sexual harassment or violence.
In Madam Gbowee’s post during the protests last week, she stated: “I call out Minister Piso Tarr. Shame on you! Your job demands that you protect the most vulnerable population of Liberia, but you have chosen to align with your political god-father.”
She added further: “I am angry, infuriated, boiling inside…if you had done your job void of politics, we won’t be where we find ourselves.”
In a stern reaction bringing Madam Gbowee to check, Minister Tarr said: “As a woman who won her laurels on the backs of others based on advocating for women, you have failed to see in your actions, the same thing you have accused others of doing-trying their best to beat other women down just for hell of it — knowing fully well that there is no truth to what you are saying.”
“Now sister, remember when you became a Nobel Laureate, the people you called your friends stood alongside you, were there for you, placed their arms around you, and supported you. No lessons learned there for you?”
Tarr said the least Gbowee can do is to reciprocate in an authentic way the good done to her by many women and young girls as well as men in Liberia.
She added that Gbowee is still pushing on her falsities (which the Minister did not state what these were) for the lack of having anything else to say to the public as she continues with her advocacy.
She alleged that apart from piles of negatives, Gbowee’s nine long years of enjoying her Nobel laurels are yet to be translated into something meaningful to help the generality of the country, mainly through women’s groupings.
Madam Gbowee on her Facebook account also expressed her dissatisfaction over police manhandling of protesters, mainly women who were exercising their constitutional right of assembly. She said the action of the Police was appalling, sickening and a big shame on the Weah led government.
“To teargas and use violence on a peaceful gathering led by women against a pandemic is beyond unimaginable,” she said.
According to Gbowee, Tarr played politics regarding a young man tearing off a three-year-old’s private part for forceful penetration (rape) and that hurt her (Gbowee) deeply.
Minister Tarr, on the other hand, conceded that, though rape is a scourge she is seriously against; however, she is not complacent about people being unjustly accused of committing or facilitating the commission of rape against anyone, or about anyone using the high rate of rape cases in the country to score political points.
“I will not go back to your woes with the previous administration (former President Sirleaf’s era) as that is not my business, but you know and I know that the Weah led administration opened up to you a hand of friendship, welcoming you as a leader from within our generation, blessed with a huge platform to come in with your ideas too to help move the country forward and yet you chose to snub that hand extended to you in true cooperation,” she added.
Tarr recounted that when she was nominated by President Weah to serve as the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Gbowee was the first among friends she called to break the good news and extended her an invitation to help to push the women’s agenda, but sadly, Gbowee again snubbed her call and chose to prefer being the “omniscient being” among women in the country.
“Since I am not doing my job, what has stopped you from reaching out to me or calling me to help with your savvy suggestions? Why haven’t you come to help me know what to do? What stopped you from using the same WhatsApp we usually chat on and let me know what is right to do? Please, my sister, you will not succeed in using me as a scapegoat in your bid to endear yourself where there is a lack,” she noted.
Continuing in her acerb reactions, Minister Tarr stressed further: “For once, use your international platform for national interest. It is truly sad. Everyday women accuse you of being selfish and self-centered and being a person who only wants for herself and over the years I have defended you, saying that you must have been misunderstood.”
She predicted that Gbowee is contemplating on becoming President of Liberia one day, and with that undisclosed intent, she should come straight and begin an open campaign now rather than using her platforms to get at individual members in government.