Time For Liberia To Revisit Weak Sex Crimes Laws


NEARLY 48 HOURS after the revelation that a sex tape made during what appears to be a consensual encounter between an adult Liberian man and woman, had gone viral, the suspect, Mr. Mohammed Sambolah, Assistant Director at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, who is also said to be a professor at the University of Liberia remains free.

UNDER LIBERIAN LAW, suspects of rape, abuse or in this case the embarrassing posting of a consented sex act between two adults, cannot be picked up unless the victim files a complaint.

WHAT THIS MEANS is that in the event a rape victim is found dead, her rapist or killer will walk scot free.

WE HAVE SEEN this play out in a lot of cases. The most recent one involving the alleged rape of a 13-year-old girl by Representative Morias Waylee, (Unity Party –District 2, Grand Gedeh).

WAYLEE HAS denied the allegations although family sources have told FrontPageAfrica that the lawmaker was for a while.

SADLY, AS HAS BEEN the case of so many rape controversies, the absence of a victim’s testimony often means that perpetrator will remain on the loose.

IN THE LITTLE GIRL’S case, her parents have reportedly taken her to the society bush in a bid to shield the alleged perpetrator. Her life and that of her young infant, forever scarred with stigma that comes with the norms of today’s Liberia realities.

IN THIS LATEST CASE, police are yet to effect an arrest of the suspect accused of posting the embarrassing video of a woman.

IN STATEMENTS RELEASED by both the Ministry of Gender, Children And Social Protection (MGCSP) and the ruling Unity Party, the accused name is being withheld while the victim of the embarrassing saga go through the pains of an unnecessary viral moment that will forever shape her life.

ACCORDING TO ITS own investigation, the Gender ministry says it gathered that the recording was done a long-time ago, but only surfaced recently when the two reportedly engaged in a misunderstanding.

THE MINISTRY NOTED that it sees the recording and subsequent exposure of said video as devilish, embarrassing and malicious. “It is a serious violation of the privacy of womanhood. In a release issued in Monrovia, the ministry indicates that the recording has the propensity to further present a negative picture of the dignity of Liberian women, and that such act must never be tolerated. “No woman should be treated in such form and manner, no matter what the circumstances.”

WE AGREE with the Gender Ministry that the dignity of a woman should be protected at all times in-spite of what condition that woman finds herself.

WE ALSO JOIN the ministry in calling for a swift and immediate action on the part of the government in setting an example on Mr. Sambollah in a bid to discourage others from doing the same in the future.

THE SAGA IS REMINISCENT of a similar case in the United States of America involving Mr. Michael J. Piznarski, 29, who was arrested in January 2011 and charged with unlawful surveillance and coercion. He was later charged with additional counts of unlawful surveillance after investigators found footage on his computer of a second victim, also a Colgate student, who did not know the video existed until she was contacted by police investigators.

PIZNARSKI IS IN JAIL today because he secretly recorded his girlfriend performing a consensual sex act and then threatening to make the video public.

THIS WAS WRONG IN AMERICA and Liberia should also consider it not just wrong, but criminal. Invasion sexual privacy constitutes a crime in most countries where it is considered illegal to record or post intimate moments without their consent.

BOTH MALAWI and Uganda have put in place anti-pornography or anti-obscenity provisions in the law to guard against various forms of “cyber violence” against women although there have been mounting calls for tougher legislations to curb their incidence rates and to ensure redress for victims.

IN MALAWI, new media laws have been mandated to, among other things, enforce ethical conduct, including ensuring that media content is not harmful to minors or deviant to accepted traditional culture.

IT IS TIME THAT LIBERIA think about do the same.

WAITING FOR A VICTIM to step forward before taking action is a poor excuse for a government that prefers to defer doing the right thing for another day while leaving room for sexual predators to roam about freely with impunity.

CONDEMNATION IS GOOD, but arrest and prosecution is even better. The man in that pathetic ego trip of a video deserves to be in jail. We must not wait for another victim, which could probably end up in suicide or death before wandering into the land of what if.