Welcome! This blog documents my experience as a Nancy Germeshausen Klavans Cultural Bridge Fellow with the Liberian Ministry of Gender and Development during my studies at the Harvard Kennedy School.

The views expressed are solely my own and are written to share experiences, introduce issues, and initiate conversation. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


One issue that has troubled each of us this summer is rape. It is exhausting to think about the enormity of the problem in Liberia and the major institutional and cultural barriers to doing anything about it. The legal system is weak; the rape is rampant; the women are completely disempowered. Yet, with a problem so horrifying, clearly something has to be done.

This week the Vice President has been promoting and publicizing the establishment of a court in Monrovia to try only rape cases. This is an attempt to respond to more than 30 rape cases on the court dockets that have yet to be tried.

Last week, I helped draft Minister Gayflor's key note address to the Liberian Council of Churches. The fact that they invited her to speak on the topic of Gender-based violence was a positive sign that Liberians are beginning to recognize the problem.

NGOs have plastered the capital city with billboards in an attempt to sensitize the predominately illiterate population about violence against legal. Drawings emphasize the messages: Rape is a crime. Rape leads to jail. Your woman is your friend, not your enemy - stop violence against women.

The awareness is increasing, but its hard to feel encouraged. Yesenia and Jeff visited a county jail and spoke with a man accused of rape. His defense: it wasn't rape, she had a boyfriend. Or in other words, she was not a virgin and therefore it couldn't have been rape.

There is a long way to go --- but if any journey deserves the hard fought battle, it is this one.


Anonymous said...

…no longer in Liberia, I look forward to your blog updates. Thanks for continuing to shed critical light on a topic generally understood as a local perversion rather than a global concern/occurrence- complicated, necessitating immediate attention, with far-reaching implications for a community’s (and country’s) development, growth and stability.

I just read an article on Alertnet.org (http://www.alertnet.org/db/blogs/1265/2007/07/9-130615-1.htm)on “Rape as a sport” in the Congo…it certainly made me think of Liberia. As Comfort at MoGD reminded us back in June, “it’s easy to fall sick, but it takes time to heal.” Transformation takes time, but with people like you, we will see change come more readily:)

Keep showing your readers and the world what a real feminist looks like. So proud of you! Abrazotes, Yesenia

Michael said...

thank you for all the work you and your friends are doing for my country, great blog, can't wait to read the next entry.

Institute for said...

Interesting to note that while rape remains a challenge in Liberia - as it does in so many countries - the country is also moving ahead in promoting political participation by women. Read more here: http://www.huntalternatives.org/download/1561_generic_inspiration_day_v3.pdf

Anonymous said...

I admire your commitment, but have come to believe such altruistic ventures can be misguided.

Egalitarianism is a myth.

Read The Bell Curve.

-Amy Biehl