By Gboko Stewart
In 2015, President George M. Weah, then Montserrado County Senator, signed up on the global #HeForShe campaign in the rotunda of the Legislature. It was a solemn pledge to end rape, violence, discrimination, sexual exploitation and abuse and all other forms of abuse against women. According to Liberia’s Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, from January to September 2017, a total of 892 sexual and gender-based violence cases were reported, of which 506 were rape cases.
As an icon and now leader of a nation which has broken the glass ceiling for women in Africa, that commitment goes a long way, even into his presidency. Liberia produced Africa’s first democratically elected female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Liberia is the first country on the continent to grant women suffrage. However, it appears President Weah’s commitment to bring an end the sexual exploitation and abuse of women is being undermined by reports of an official of his government allegedly sexually exploiting and raping a female job applicant.
Moseray Momoh is Deputy Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation and has been accused of allegedly raping a lady in the name of job offer. As a husband and father and perhaps the face of the Liberian #HeforShe movement, such allegation is damning and cast an aspersion on the administration of President Weah. It comes at a time when the President is gearing up for his maiden address before the General Assembly of the United Nations.
During this visit to the UN, President Weah, alongside First Lady Clar Weah, will participate in several side events, which include sessions on the advancement of women rights and the sharing of progress reports on Liberia’s fight to eradicate all forms of violence against women. Any would be presentation by the President, First Lady or the Minister of Gender, Children Social Protection, will be clouded by allegations of official rape, whether by an official of government or ordinary citizens.
Momoh needs to face investigation and be brought to court to face justice. The Police must wrap up its investigation and forward the accused and the alleged victim to court. The accused needs to be incarcerated, as the law states rape is a non-available offense. Already, a barrage of corruption allegations continues to hover over him, dating back to when he was a low level employee at the LWSC and the UNDP, according to Daily Observer and FrontPage Africa.
The President must go a step further and suspend or dismiss him until this allegation, rape, corruption or otherwise, has been cleared in a court of competent jurisdiction. Rape cases continue to remain prevalent inLiberia. A fortnight ago, a young girl was gang raped in Maryland County by three unknown men. To the best of our knowledge, efforts to bring the culprits to justice appear to be lagging at best.
The lights, cameras and optics are gone. Now it’s time for the president to show to the rest of the world that indeed, he is a #HeForShe.
About the author:
Gboko Stewart is a journalist and an activist to end gender based violence.