Liberia: Long-time ArcelorMittal School Bus Driver in Custody for Alleged Rape, Mother Alarms Being Coerced to Drop Case
Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – A driver of ArcelorMittal Liberia identified as Emmanuel K. Ballah, 55, was on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 arrested and remanded for allegedly raping his 13-year-old goddaughter in the concession area of the company.
Report by Elton W. Tiah, Contributor
The company has strongly condemned the act and says it operates under the highest standards of business ethics and governance.
The victim’s mother (name withheld) told reporters that the incident occurred last week and she became appalled by the continuous delay by the police and relatives of the alleged perpetrator which prompted her to expose the ‘rape under cover’ to the public.
According to her, the alleged perpetrator lives close to the ArecelorMittal residential area in Buchanan.
She explained that her daughter and the rest of the children usually perform some house chores for the alleged perpetrator because his wife travelled out of the country.
“I was shocked when my daughter told me that Ballah raped her. I firstly didn’t believe her, but the medical report and Ballah’s own statement got me so frustrated in men.”– Victim’s Mother
Victim’s mother: “Ballah is 55 years old and my children see him as their grandfather because every time we prepare food we normal keep food for him because his wife was a very good friend to me when she was in Liberia”.
“I came from Monrovia last week and my daughter called me in the room and explained to me that Ballah forcibly had sexual intercourse with her after she had gone to pick up bread from him”.
She explained that her daughter was hurriedly taken to the hospital for checkup; adding that the hospital’s result proved that she had been tampered with.
She said that upon receiving the result, she quickly contacted Ballah and few other persons to hear from him as it relates to the allegation.
“We called that man and he admitted to us that he did it but he wanted me to compromise it which I refused because my daughter’s life and future is involved as well,” she said.
She stressed that she has known Ballah for over seven years, adding that she takes Ballah as a brother due to their closeness.
“I was shocked when my daughter told me that Ballah raped her. I firstly didn’t believe her but the medical report and Ballah’s own statement got me so frustrated in men,” she lamented.
Madam Pewee stressed that she will not rest until justice prevails; adding that rape is becoming a normal thing for men in Liberia.
“I will not rest at all until the final result comes from the court. If I were the President, the best punishment for people who are involved in raping is to cut off their private parts,” she said.
Condemned by ArcelorMittal
When contacted for commented, ArcelorMittal issued this statement:
ArcelorMittal Liberia operates under the highest standards of business ethics and governance. These standards are essential to every aspect of our company and all employees and contractors MUST comply.
What has happened is tragic and completely unacceptable.
We are devastated by this news and strongly condemn such act anywhere within ArcelorMittal Liberia concession and beyond.
We are providing support and care to the victim and the family.
The management of ArcelorMittal Liberia has taken administrative action against the suspect and turned him over to the Liberian National Police for further investigation and appropriate legal action.
The company doesn’t tolerate violence and is committed to a work environment free of any form of harassment, exploitation, abuse or violence as defined by the laws of Liberia. This is also stated in our human rights policy that we adhere to. Any form of harassment, abuse or violence will never be accepted.
“What has happened is tragic and completely unacceptable. We are devastated by this news and strongly condemn such act anywhere within ArcelorMittal Liberia concession and beyond.”– ArcelorMittal Liberia
Rape on the Rise
Liberia, currently ranked 177th out of 188 countries in the annual Gender Inequality Index is poised to see more decline in the wake of measures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
A review of statistics from the Bureau of Corrections at the Ministry of Justice for the months of January to June 2020 shows that more than 600 cases of aggravated assault, sodomy, sodomy with criminal intent and rape were reported and are currently being investigated.
According to the Sexual Gender-Based Violence Unit of the MOJ, total new cases from January to June indicated: 107 cases tried in court, leading to 44 convictions and 42 acquittals. This includes all cases received from the Liberian National Police (LNP) and has or being adjudicated by the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence at the MOJ. The Data covers Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, Lofa, Maryland, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Grand Kru.
The emergency has since been reduced despite the ongoing 6pm to 6am curfew in place, many who are confined to homes find themselves falling prey to abuses while young boys and girls spending most of their time at home out of school because of the pandemic, are being abused by family members or stepparents.
From law enforcement officers to men of God, the alleged perpetrators have come in all forms from all parts of Liberia, with one motive in mind, destroy the innocence of young boys and girls during a deadly pandemic that has taken the world by storm.