Transferred Aggression

MONROVIA-After several years of being the lead FGM advocate, Ms. Charlene Freeman of the Child Rights Foundation later fled the country for fear of her life,  yet her family members have been constantly threatened and harassed for her whereabouts by individuals who are believed to be emissaries of higher-ups in government or the traditional society.

Surviving a heavy group of armed men, who attacked the home of Ms. Freeman’s Du-Port Road residence at about 3:30a.m. in June of last year, her siblings’ Faith and Grace Quiminee are now in Ghana and with no intention of returning over fear for their lives on grounds that they could still be targeted for their elder sister Charlene as the primary target.

It can be recalled that a group of well-armed men in June of last year launched an attack on the home of Ms. Freeman and made away with several valuables and cash.

During the night of the attack, both Faith and Grace narrowly escaped death after being severely flogged by the robbers, who requested the whereabouts of their sister (Charlene), who they claimed, was spotted in the country for the burial of her brother in Gbarnga, Bong County.

In an interview barely a year after the unfortunate situation, the victims vowed not to return to the country now or if possible, forever for fear of their lives, and have similarly urged their elder sister Charlene not to ever venture.

In recollection of memories of the dreadful night, the victims narrated that the terribly looking armed gangs were resolute that they wouldn’t rest until the lifeless body of Charlene was displayed so as to serve as deterrence to the many other advocates who escaped initiation and now want to be mouthpieces against the culture.

“They did not only take away cash and valuables, but they also tortured us to produce our sister, whom they said was in the country. Fortunately, Charlene was no longer in the country; she had gone into exile,” stated Faith.

Grace and Faith explained that the robbers also demanded from them some gold chains and rings, as those were materials that were often worn by them (victims).

As a result of the heart jerking incident, Grace and Faith’s only option was to immediately flee to the West African nation of Ghana along with their kids for fear of their lives as the Liberia National Police through its local depot could not find a trace of the perpetrators to bring them to justice.

Accordingly, in transferring their aggression towards Grace and Faith, the robbers made away with US$870.00, several pairs of ladies’ shoes, a passport, two wrist watches, one set of flat screen television, a fan and three smart phones.

“They were too many. I think almost 19 in number, but we couldn’t really identify anyone because we were really afraid. Just imagine we were only three persons in the house when the incident took place. While taking away our things, they kept asking us; torturing us to produce our elder sister Charlene who was by then no longer in the country. We really believe she was the ideal person they actually came for,” Faith furthered.

“Because of this, we can’t go back to Liberia now and we think our sister should not go back to Liberia because she could be harmed and tampered with,” added Grace.

Despite global advocacy for the abolition of FGM, As Liberia is still not a signatory to the effort to end what is considered a harmful traditional practice as some key officials in government remain supportive to the act, and in fact, are part of the traditional council.

Since the departure of peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Liberia has been rated among many countries across West Africa with prevalent crime rates.

The 2020 US State Department 2020 Report released recently points out significant human rights issues including: arbitrary killings by police; cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention by government officials; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; serious restrictions on freedom of the press, including violence and threats of violence against journalists; official corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for violence against women; the existence or use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the worst forms of child labor.

It states that impunity for individuals, who committed human rights abuses, including atrocities, during the Liberian civil wars that ended in 2003, remained a serious problem, although the government cooperated with war crimes investigations in third countries.

The report summarizes that the government made intermittent, but limited attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of current abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

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