Monrovia – It was in the middle of the night, dazed from sleep when Korpo Jaiemeh’s fiancé poured acid on her.
“I was taken to a clinic in my community when it first happened, and later taken to the JFK Hospital, but they only gave me pills to slow down the pain. I still feel pain” – Korpo Jaimeh
After the bitter experience, disfigured Korpo now lives in misery, pain and agony.
“He told me he will pour acid on me if he sees me with boyfriend,” she said.
He’s gone, now nowhere to be found. She’s left to struggle to keep their seven years old son in school.
The incident occurred in May 2013 but Korpo has not had the opportunity to receive any medical attention since then.
“Up to now, I still feel like there’s something burning under my skin. I cannot stretch my hands when I keep it one position for a long time.
"I feel pains in my body when I go to bed."
“I really need help. I want someone to come in to help me to at least go for checkup or surgery,” she said.
The perpetrator of the gruesome act Coleman Sackie, has not been found since he committed the crime.
“It was in the night around 12:00AM when he woke me up from sleep.
He said, ‘babie, wake up let me tell you something’. When I got up, he wasted the acid in my face and ran away. Since then, we have not seen him,” she lamented.
According to Korpo, the mother of the victim who lives in Careysburg had not shown any concern since the incident occurred.
“Each time I go to his mother’s place, his mother and brother doesn’t tell me anything. They can’t even help me to take care of the little boy. They always say, they too don’t know where Sackie is.
“His mother is an old woman, they’re very poor and I can’t get anything out of them. Even when I go to the Police, I won’t get anything out of her,” she added.
Korpo said the case was initially reported to the Careysburg Police Depot but to date; nothing has been done about it as the defendant has since been on the run.
“Now with my condition, I can’t do any hard work. I can’t even work to get money for myself to take care of my son. Since my mother died during the Ebola, things haven’t been easy on us. My people have been trying for me and my son, but this year it is not easy.
“I really need help. I really want government, or even NGO to come to my aid, at least to help me go to hospital. Even when I’m feeling pain, I can’t go the hospital because I don’t have the finance,” she appealed.
Korpo’s Advice to Young Women
“Right now I’m very careful. I know what it is like for a man to treat you bad. He used to threaten me, but I kept it to myself. I didn’t tell my family because I thought I was doing the right thing for my relationship.
“I want to tell my fellow women not to take it for granted when a man threatens you. Report it to your family or the Police. I am a victim so I know what I am saying.
“As young women, you need to learn to do something for yourself. Don’t depend on men. Once you don’t depend on them, they can have some respect for you.
Gender Ministry’s Response
The Director of the Gender Base Violence Division at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Deddeh Quaqua, expressed dismay over the Korpo’s terrible experience. She noted that it was regrettable that Korpo did not get in touch with the Ministry when the incident occurred.
Ms. Quaqua said in cases of such nature, the community needed to take the initiative in reporting the case to the Police or the Ministry to ensure that justice was served and proper medical treatment was administered.
“People need to stop hiding these kinds of cases. People need to report cases like these, so that’s the perpetrator can be arrested and some help can be given to the victim.
She alarmed that acid attack is getting on the rise in Liberia, adding that it has to be discouraged to the letter.
She assured Korpo that the ministry would work with partners to ensure that she gets medical treatment.
Acid Attack on the Rise
“Acid attack is creeping into this country so much. We need to address it, because if we don’t address the issue of acid attack, we’re going to have so many women deformed.
If you see some of these women and the ages they’re in, when acid is poured on them, some of them lose their eyes and body parts, it’s a really terrible thing that we need to work on, it has become so serious.”
According to Ms. Quaqua, from 2012 to date, there have been several women coming to the Ministry with cases of acid attack.
Let’s look at the issue of Korpo, she has lost one eye already, she only has one left. We had other women and girls who went through the same thing before her.
We had Asatu that was taken to Ghana [for surgery]. The second one lost her two eyes completely, she can’t see anymore – a very young woman this is a serious problem.
“This domestic violence with the acid attack is something that we really need to work on and bring it to an end and ensure that the perpetrator is punished.
But almost all of these acid attack perpetrators run away, they’re not found. The ones who are seen are put in jail and after some time they are freed, but what happens to the victim?”
The Role of the Domestic Violence Bill
The Domestic Violence Bill was submitted to the Legislature in September 2015.
The bill, among other things, sought to ban Female Genital Mutilation and impose some punishment for domestic violence. However, the bill is languishing within the Capitol.
Ms. Quaqua explained that contrary to the popular notion that the bill only seeks to ban FGM, the bill seeks to address domestic violence of all kinds.
“There are so many forms of domestic violence that are being addressed by the bill. If we look at the issue of abandonment and persistent non-support – that issue is not taken as violence, it’s violence because the issue of abandonment and persistent non-support if it is not well addressed it results to a lot of things for our young people.
Wife battering and acid attack are all forms of domestic violence that the bill seeks to address.
According to her, it was unfortunate that the lawmakers were only focusing on the FGM aspect of the bill and also misunderstanding the request for a ban on FGM.
“It’s [the bill] not just about punishing somebody it’s telling you that this will happen to a victim and what’s supposed to be provided for them to move on with their lives.
“What is happening is that more is being discussed on the FGM, that’ our biggest challenge right now with the Domestic Violence Bill.
They have talked about FGM so much in the bill, there are other issues are not discussed, it’s always FGM. We know that FGM is bad; we all know that in Liberia, FGM is practiced in 10 of Liberia’s 15 counties. The only counties that don’t do FGM are the southeastern counties.
“FGM is also part of the Sande society.
The Sande has a lot of good things and those good things are what we want to build on and the bad ones, we get rid of them through the Domestic Violence Bill,” Ms. Quaqua said.