Glenna Gordon and Jina Moore are working on a project called Justice Renewed: Liberia After the War, looking at Liberia’s efforts to restore law and justice.
Photo by Glenna Gordon. "An old woman holds up an animal called a doo at a village market in central Liberia."
There likely will be articles stemming from this project, but for now their blog posts on the topic are original and awesome. An excerpt from a post by Jina Moore about a chat with a former feared fighter who now charges cell phones near Taylor’s old house in Congo Town — an especially daring venture as I remember most Liberians believing this home to cause very bad luck:
A reformed man, my Liberian colleagues and I expected him to be a bit more confessional than he ended up being. Sure, Taylor committed crimes, and Akar says it would be better if Taylor confessed, made “people understand why, and say ‘I’m sorry.’” But justice? “Man can prosecute him,” Akar said, but “wherever Taylor is at now, no man can free him from that.”
And what of Akar, a man whose name once made people run with fear? Does conversion lead to confession?
Not so much.
Trish Kinney has a piece in the Huffington Post about the Liberia rape case in Arizona. (For background on the case, read Kinney’s piece and this post.) I found the below excerpt spot-on. There is at least one similarity between the ideas below and a comment Dove made in response to my earlier post: It is unfortunate that the father of the girl who was raped said his daughter brought shame to his family. But this is not an exclusively Liberian phenomena. It happens everywhere.
Stephanie Orr deals with these types of cases in her position as Executive Director of CASA, the Center Against Sexual Abuse and Violence in Phoenix. She stated that, according to reports, the child was the family’s black sheep, labeled a liar and a troublemaker by her parents and siblings. Her sister was seen in a CNN video saying that “she always bring trouble, she always bring trouble”. Unable to control her, it was a pattern for the father to ask that someone take her off their hands. Ms. Orr spoke of the deep dysfunction of this young victim’s family, of a neglected child’s need for attention of any kind, of poor parenting, and the bully mentality of boys in the age range of the accused. None of these factors were referred to in the context of the culture of Liberia. She warned that those interested in the story should not be sidetracked with the cultural politics that have defined it. No, this is not a story about Liberia’s troubled history and its cultural implications. This is a story about child rape and its underlying complexities.
An update on the case of the Liberian girl who was raped in Arizona: The police are seeking felony child abuse charges against the parents, who allegedly said they were ashamed of their daughter for being raped. A few weeks ago, the girl was taken into protective custody.
Dove, who has worked on gender-based violence issues in Liberia and the US, thinks the girl should have remained with her family. She said:
The parents having an initially unsupportive reaction is not abnormal. No parent is prepared to accept that something so awful has happened to their child. In all of my years of GBV work, I could count on one hand the number of parents of victims who did not deny, excuse, or minimize what had happened to their child. While this initial reaction is not helpful, it is understandable. Our minds are resistant to believing something so upsetting, or to acknowledging that we have failed to protect our child.
But before we criticize the decision to seek felony charges against the parents, it’s worth noting that police have documented a series of incidents of abuse and neglect against the girl. In fact it seems surprising that charges haven’t been filed against the parents previously. This AP article goes through these incidents:
…the girl had injuries consistent with child abuse after school officials called them. Officials removed her for the weekend before allowing her to return home…the girl took a steak from a neighbor’s grill and Phoenix police officers found her hungry and wandering around by herself…police got a report that the girl was seen being dragged into the family apartment. Eleven days later, an officer found her lost and wandering the neighborhood and wrote a child neglect report…a Phoenix officer found her wandering around begging for food.