Women were accused of kidnapping a baby and of ‘witchcraft’
In recent days, a video clip, showing two women stripped completely nude and publicly flogged by a band of men trying to coerce them into confessing to being witches, has gone viral on social media.
Before the video emerged, the Daily Observer originally reported the story in its January 15, 2019 edition. According eyewitnesses, the two women along with a third, identified as Willean Nywallah, were sexually assaulted, with some of their abusers inserting sticks into their private parts.
This led to the death of Willean, who had also suffered severe beating and was reportedly buried overnight. The grave was discovered by some community members who reported the case to officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in the district, and the decomposed corpse was ordered exhumed and photographed.
The incident took place on December 13, 2018, a day after one Sayetta Samuel reported that her child had gone missing after she left the child with the father to perform some domestic chores.
After hours of fruitless search, a witch doctor, who was consulted, reportedly named Willean Nywallah and the two other women as being responsible for the missing child. The witch doctor further alleged that the women were “witches” and were responsible for several other deaths in the community, reports said.
Sinoe County District #2 Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh, has condemned the reported humiliation of two women in Numopoh, Sinoe County by some men, who accused the victims of being witches. The women were recently stripped naked, flogged and paraded through the town, while being photographed by onlookers.
Rep. Sloh said the action and its attending video have both embarrassed all civilized people, especially Sinoe citizens around the world.
In a release issued on Monday, February 25, 2019, Sloh apologized to the victims, their families, and all women around the world for the disgrace the barbaric action has imposed upon the women. Rep. Sloh chairs the House Committee on Information, Broadcasting and Tourism and Cultural Affairs.
He said his initial investigation has confirmed that the incident occurred in Numopoh, Greenville District, Sinoe County.
According to Amnesty International, public flogging “is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, which is banned by international human rights law. The practice is humiliating and leads to psychological as well as physical scars for those subjected to it for years. [It is] a form of torture.”
Rep. Sloh added, “in these civilized days only persons suffering from chronic insanity and irreversible mental derangement can even think of meting out such abnormal and violent social behavior against any human being, let alone women.”
While refuting media reports that the incident took place in his district, Sloh said, “no matter where this ugly incident occurred, it must be condemned by all civilized human beings.”
He also regretted what he called the “very poor judgment” employed by those who published the video. He said the publication further violated the privacy rights of the victims and exacerbated an already ugly situation.
In a related development, Sloh has condemned the reported mob violence in the Grigsby Farm Community, within the same Greenville District, where law enforcement officers were reportedly brutalized over the weekend by angry citizens. He is also secretary-general of the Sinoe County Legislative Caucus.
He said nothing justifies violent actions against law enforcement personnel.
He assured that the Sinoe Legislative Caucus will ensure that all perpetrators of both crimes “will face the full weight of the law.”