Liberian Women Stage Protest March Over Dog-Woman-Sex Scandal

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 21, 2004

On Thursday, February 19th, hundreds of aggravated women in Monrovia staged a peaceful demonstration to protest a newspaper story under the headline " Liberian Girls Sex With Dogs". The dog sex scandal story published in the last Monday, February 16th edition of the independent Heritage newspaper prompted public outcry, and accusations that the Liberian media is engaging in "yellow journalism".

The Heritage newspaper, in its February 16th edition, alleged that Liberian girls were having sex with dogs for four hundred dollars (US$400.00). The paper in the report named the Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), Mr. George Dweh as the source of the story.

The Heritage quoted Speaker Dweh as saying that during his visit to Europe, he (Dweh) witnessed a video recording, which shows dogs having sex with Liberian girls. However, Speaker Dweh did not name the European country or the individuals who displayed the video recording to him.

The news story, which is the talk of the town, was published on the front page of The Heritage newspaper and accompanied by a graphic portraying a dog having sex with a woman. Newspaper vendors and petty traders took advantage of the publication to circulate photocopies of the story on the market.

The march, which started from the head offices of the Liberian Women Initiatives (LWI) on Broad Street, brought the aggravated Liberian women in the dozens from the various communities and sectors. During the march the women chanted anti-media slogans, accusing the Liberian media of being unprofessional and unschooled in the journalism profession.

The women who carried banners and placards in their hands, with various kinds of anti-media slogan ended their march at the Capitol Building, the seat of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), where they demanded that the Speaker of the House, Mr. George Dweh offer an apology to them for his involvement in the sex scandal story.

While at the Capitol Building awaiting an apology from Speaker Dweh, the women spread out before the main entrance to the building and vowed to continue their action until the speaker openly apologize to them. The women said the story has disgraced them as Liberian women and girls are being dehumanized, as a result of the publication.

The women, who also described the newspaper publication as " unethical and unprofessional", have called on the Ministry of Information and other appropriate
government agencies to take the necessary action to deter the ugly practices of yellow journalism in Liberia.

In his apology to the Liberian women, Speaker Dweh said his action was in no way intended to disgrace the Liberian women but blamed the Heritage newspaper for unprofessional and unethical journalism.

Speaker Dweh, who accused the Liberian women of unfair treatment against him through their actions, said he felt disgraced and embarrassed upon viewing the film in which he saw dogs having sex with Liberian girls.

According to Speaking Dweh, the recording of dogs having sex with Liberian women was done during the regime of former President Charles Taylor. He blamed the women for failing to stage similar protest to speak against the report that dogs were having sex with Liberian women during the former regime.

Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia and the Ministry of Information have denounced the newspaper publication. The ministry said while the government will not muzzle the press, it will also not condone the abuse and misuse of the constitutional opportunities provided for the practice of journalism in the country.

The ministry said it is very concerned about the low ethical threshold that The Heritage newspaper applied when it published the graphic that accompanied the story. The ministry, in a press release issued in Monrovia, called on the women of Liberia to remain peaceful and calm as the nation’s tradition for the respect for women will always be upheld.

For its part, the Press Union of Liberia said the publication has far reaching damaging effect on the cultural heritage of Liberia and defames the country’s women. The Union said the cartoon graphically showing a dog having sex with a girl was highly immoral and socially irresponsible, saying that it teaches a bad lesson to the already traumatized youth of Liberia.

The union has threatened to penalize any member house in the country that breaches ethical standards of the noble profession. The union is warning all media houses in the country to refrain from publishing information that would cause confusion in the country.