Child rights advocate, Abraham Keita has written the Liberian leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regarding the alleged ongoing rape case involving a member of the Liberian House of Representative, Morais Waylee of Grand Gedeh County District # 2.
Below is the full text of Keita’s letter to the Liberian leader:
June 30, 2017
Dear Madam President,
I am filled with pain and consumed in anger as I write you this letter. It is still mind-boggling to me that a rape scandal would be treated in this manner and form as it is with the alleged case involving Rep. Morais Waylee of Grand Gedeh County District #2. For weeks, I have asked myself – where are we headed as a country? I have posed the question and posed it time and time again – if justice cannot prevail in this case under a Female President will it ever prevail under a Male President? My assumption is, it may never!
About 12 years ago, the world was on the fringe of a historic and momentous celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and Africa’s first female President, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Today, the world is on the edge of an abyss: violence against women and children have increased in Liberia than ever before.
Madam President, I can recall very vividly when you said in your first inaugural address that you will bring back smiles on the faces of children. Though I was much younger than I am now, but I cannot forget those words just as I cannot forget my birthday. Sitting near my mother in 2006 (8 years old then), I was glued to the radio to hear you speak as she was as well. Listening to you gave me the hope that though I was victimized by violence, no child would ever face violence again and even if they do, justice will be served. It was that moment I too got to know about the Iron Lady you are; it was that moment I thought of a Liberia that abhors injustice; it was that moment that I said violence especially sexual violence would finally be eradicated throughout Liberia; it was that moment I said the time has come for women and children to live in a free and safe society with no one abusing them. After few months, your administration was plunged into the Angel Togba’s case, thus experimenting your ability to end rape and murder in Liberia.
Since 2008, no situation of sexual violence or abuse has attained such public agitations than the one reported by Frontpage Africa in which Representative Morias T. Waylee is accused of raping and impregnating a 13-year old girl believed to be his niece. Horrible and pathetic!
In adherence to and continuation of your fight to end violence against women and children in Liberia, I led a group of peaceful protesters on the grounds of the Capitol Building (National Legislature) to demand investigations into this allegation against a high profile government official. The protesters, all of us, had and have one thing in common – conviction. We were backed by our conscience to do what we did on that day (May 23, 2017). Our protest was peaceful but yet powerful! I organized such protest not because I wanted my name to be written on the marble slabs of monuments or in the pages of history books, neither did I intend to attract public recognition – for my name is one known in the corridors of daily happenings in Liberia. Though we were small in numbers and maybe young at age, but we were and still remain conscious at mind and passionate at heart. That protest was sparked as a result of a May 3 Frontpage Africa’s publication in which Rep. Waylee is alleged to have raped and impregnated a minor only identified as Mary (name withheld on the basis of confidentiality and adherence to best practices). We had assembled at the Legislature to remind members of that body that whilst it is an alleged case, it was prudent and expedient to have him recused from all committees and as a Representative so as to maintain the sanctity of said body given that rape is a state and non-billable
offense – a universal practice when a public official is accused of a state crime least to talk of first degree felony. We acted in the confines of the rule of law –Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution and Article 12 of the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child – we committed no crime by doing so. Shortly after our protest and our concerns received by Rep. Byron Zahnwea of Rivercess County, as we trekked the side of the Capitol Building facing the state-run University of Liberia, a man with a horse-shaped white hat and an all-black dress suit followed us. Eventually, to the smartness and quick-to-notice attitude of one of my colleagues, we all became concerned. Little did we know that this man was from the Office of the alleged lawmaker-rapist (Rep. Waylee). He then began to shout “here is he (Keita)” as two vehicles – a TOYOTA RAV4 with license plate number HOR-64 and a white Mazda with license plate number A34347 (pictures in my possession) – slowly packed and out of both cars came staffers of lawmaker Morais Waylee who started making threatening remarks – among them, a lady with orange shirt said that that protest was the last one and they will do everything possible to get at me. My colleagues and I quickly resisted their efforts to carry me (Keita) along with them. Then, they rapidly escaped when people began to notice the encounter.
Few days after, I was charged for criminal coercion, a crime later dropped after prosecution realized they were fighting a losing battle. In this epistle, I need not belabor on the lawsuit or the threats on my life or even arrest order for me given that such is the normality of advocacy and activism.
Madam President, if you have long sought a moment to prove to the comity of nations that your fight to end violence against women and children particularly girls in Liberia is a just, broad and impartial fight, then this is your, if not, last chance to do so. We must now prove to our friends in the international community that Liberia has become of age; whether Liberia is now a safe haven for women and girls or a safe home for rapists. Many have asked this question: do we say with our mouths what we do not believe in our hearts?
Madam President, imagine your biological granddaughter raped, impregnated and future-destroyed by an adult! Imagine not being President, and your child becomes a victim of the victimization of sexual violence! Imagine law enforcers and interpreters protecting and shielding an alleged rapist! Imagine your story narrated in your novel “This Child Will Be Great”. Madam President, imagine the effects of rape on one’s entire life – the pain, the suffering, the isolation; they leave scars for life.
If my history and memory can serve me, and they normally do – you vowed and made a solemn decision that justice for rape victims will be as daring as is the fight. With your 12 years tenure reaching its termination, one can count with their fingers the number of rape cases that have been convicted despite the thousands that are reported.
Madam President, the impunity epidemic in this moral battle against rape will forever etch your name on the beam balance of history – few will hail you for instituting laws and policies while many will chastise you for not converting words into actions. A scenario of paper versus reality.
Madam President, history demands of you that which are good and right. If you say nothing, do nothing about this 13-years old rape victim, you will be penned in the pages of written records for not giving justice to rape victims and their families. Such dubious distinction.
Abraham M. Keita