Although I am appalled by what seems to me the rising rape culture in my homeland, the daring courage of the forces against the rape plague has crystallized in me the motivation to write this prose. Thus, I begin with an extract from the anthem of Las Tesis Feminist Collective of Chile—A Rapist in Your Path:
Patriarchy is a judge who judges us for being born and our punishment is the violence you don’t see. It is femicide, impunity for my murderer, it’s disappearance, it’s rape.
And it wasn’t my fault, where I was, or how I dressed.
The rapist is you, the rapist is you.
It’s the police, the judges, the state, the president.
The oppressive state is a macho rapist.
We will fight and defeat rape, we will fight and defeat patriarchy, and we will fight and defeat inequality! And we will fight and defeat backwardness in all of its slants! And then we will fight and build our country. A country of love and not hate. A country that embraces its best sons and daughters and transforms its social dregs into decent human beings. I say to you that a better Liberia in our lifetime is not an abstract slogan, but a lived reality! It can delay, but insofar as conscious people inhabit the space called Liberia and in the name of justice and equality fight to usher in a higher civilization to alter the social failures, it will happen.
The struggle against rape and for common decency is for the battered soul of our society. It is to rid the Liberia of the detritus of the rotten society. Whether this country goes forward and live to its true creed or stew in its many contradictions and drift into backwardness, the struggle for common decency and social emancipation will determine the trajectory. That is why as a man of conscience I have leapt to the side of our women and girls fighting against rape. Ending rape is not a stand-alone issue for women but a national struggle for decency in a society in need of redemption. Every conscious and enlightened man who believes in the ‘precious humanity’ of women must take a stance and denounce this unbridled savagery.
There should be something fatally wrong with a society that tolerates injustice against a section of society which has contributed so much to change the realities in our country. For injustice is an injustice because it dehumanizes, hollows out life, and destroys. As a point of departure, Liberian men must amplify their support for the anti-rape initiative and increase the pitch of their solidarity. Rape is not just a brutal attack on the bodily integrity of women, but an assault on the values that define us as a nation. The test of the civilization of a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
Liberian women, many influential people who have influenced society have been ahead of their time. You are ahead of the society in which you live in that chokes on its many contradictions and doles out hopelessness to its women. You are pushing your society in the direction of your awareness, so it recognizes the agency of its women. That such a society understands its women have risen to the highlight of the centre stage. That never again will they accept the relegation to covert or overt dehumanization. It is because of the bold action of you women to come out in protest aginst rape, abuse, and social destruction.
Besides, you are undermining a whole mind-set and the structural certainty that women must explain themselves to a society which basks in their suffering. That they should conform to stereotypes that justify not only their oppression but also valorize their oppressors. They must accept being the the objects of abuse, and the receivers of ridiculous inhumanity. You have defied this prevailing orthodoxy and are arguing for a new compact of social engagement. It is no small task, but you are doing it with resolute determination.
When history looks back on this turbulent time, it will remember you took a stance when your society was menaced by a crisis that became an existential threat to women and scar the very destiny of your country. History will note you did not just complain in the corner, but were on the front line to force a change in a society content with its deprivation of women and young girls. It will remember young women who people said were too loud and too visible, but they did not get drowned out by the drivel of overheated masculinity.
We are ticking towards midnight, but the scene of yesterday gives me hope that exploitation is no longer tolerated. The signs are gloomy, but the promises of tomorrow are bright. I know the hopelessness of the situation that our society finds itself in, and I know it is only through direct actions that we can shape the direction. The nation is on the cliff, but the onus of history is on us to rescue it. Collapse everywhere, but you all have refused to let this go without a spirited fightback. They are devising treachery to influence society in ways that we cannot recognize, but you Liberian women have erected a gigantic checkpoint.
Yesterday, as I saw the sight of young women, men, and people of divergent demographical configurations defying the odds under a scorching sun to protest against rape breaks both the spell of silence and furthers the point that rape is abnormal. It also shows we don’t need to take a crash course in social justice to come out to express our grievances against a social enigma. It shows that we need not have somebody we know is raped before we come out. It sends the message that to fight injustice we cannot do it as a stand-alone project in our atomized silos, but by connecting struggles, building solidarity, and taking a stance.
And when this moment ends, and when we achieve victory for suffering women in the struggle for the emancipation of our society from the vestiges of backwardness, we, in Liberia, must take the same energy, organization, and determination to fight for a better society and shape the destiny of our country. By your bold actions in the anti-rape mobilizations, you have corroborated that it is a people’s movement united in outrage, fighting for just causes with honesty and integrity that transcends the parochial straits of gender, age, and win human freedom and social emancipation. As a people fighting their way to equality, let us destroy this rotten and decayed society and create a new society which will be the stuff of legend! Then the actual history of the masses will be switched on!
Kiadii is a Liberian living in Accra, Ghana, and you can contact him via [email protected]