Legal or not, sex trade is destroying our society

By James Torh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
February 26, 2007


Sex is a primal urge. Yet libido rubs a lot of people the wrong way. Most humans have sex, sometimes with love, just as often without. In marriage, outside of marriage, as a side dish to marriage. It's not ours to judge.

But if you pay for it — or charge for it — a kind of atavistic wrath, from a disapproving society, it will fall on your head.

Prostitutes and their clienteles, patrons or consumers are just about the last breed of people who can be publicly excoriated for what they are, in a language of loathing that would be intolerable if applied to anyone else. It's the argot of shaming. And the attitudes that lie beneath — their lesser status as human beings, because they trade in flesh — is precisely what permits the widespread abuse of women and men who retail their bodies, such that even their murders for example in Western countries can pass without vigorous investigation.

In the antiquated semantics of policing and criminal code legislation in countries like United States or Canada, sex is still a vice. Merchandising it is a crime, soliciting it is a crime, purchasing it is a crime, in all but the most narrowly defined circumstances. But using sex to sell product — that's advertising. Using sex to titillate — that's entertainment. Using sex to snare a partner — that's courtship.

So viewing the picture that was forwarded to my email from a colleague portrayed with ripe descriptivism of a filthy rich and notably narcissistic Minister-a one time Presidential Candidate of the 2005 presidential and legislative elections now serving the sitting government as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs with his body got all twisted up on the rotation, speed wrestling in a honey-trap with two Liberian ladies make one's head spin.

There's no point trying to figure out motive. Is this not a moral felony in our land and society? The ladies are our sisters, daughters’ maybe wives or wives to be that our politicians who should be promoting family values are using to destroy a society that is blazing with endemic and ravages of poverty. Even in sophisticated, judgment-neutral society, there is a resistant puritan streak that thinks it can and should control lust and prostitutions.

The media had their feast with the photos of our girls displaced under the Minister. There is no such defense for the sanctimonious sniping of media wags who have amused themselves by riffing on the once proud Liberian woman as if this were all just too funny.

All women are beautiful in West Africa. But none, I venture to say, as exquisitely so as Liberian women. They come in a bewildering array of form — testament to the ethnic mélange of Liberia — some dark color with long hair, some fierce red lips, many with the dark loveliness of their descent appearance that marched our nation and its heritage. When growing up in the early 70s, the Liberian woman was a joyous creature, simultaneously shy and bold when approached by strangers and was not easily twist to lavish her body. Indeed, things have changed since the introduction of the violent culture and gun battles that consumed our society in combination with the scarcity of resources that the so called peace makers that were inserted in our nation have exploited to abuse our women. They were vulnerable for the sake of bread.

During his press conference without answering questions, the honorable Minister honestly admits and made crystal clear that the photo of the light-skinned man in the toxic aura of the stigmatized sex who was extorting sex for himself into the bargain (under what condition-economic, prestige or for job) is him. He then apologized to his family, his pastor and the government not with sufficient scraping, in my sense. Unfortunately, he wants somebody to take the blame, even though his actions and unclean acts, however induced by his poking into the private parts of our sisters in such a manner, set the lethal course in motion

The Government will not touch the Minister because he did not commit crime as mentioned by the Ministry of Justice. Why this isn't or shouldn't be the Liberia government burden? Why this can't be reconciled to the values that Liberia holds dear? What very little record or sacrifices is Liberian Government making — apart, from obligatory lips service and rhetoric of protecting women rights. What national reputation is our country imperiling, as critics of the Liberian Government contend, a government that came to power on the sweat of the Liberian women and passionately had the support of our sisters and mothers?

Most of them are not politicians, they're not activists, their opinions are rarely sought but during the election seasons, the numbers of our sisters and mothers boosted by thousands who stood symbolically with the sitting President to show support because they wanted a change for the better-protection from the cruel hands of men who over the years violated their rights. If the greatness of a life is measured in deeds done for others, then the Liberian women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and decision to vote the government into power can stand among the greatest of friends that the President should cherish and to protect.

This shouldn't be about a leader looking inwards for the sake of friendship; it should be about leader looking outwards, as a trusted leader and central person in a state of the world, with values and obligations and a richness of spirit — all the finest of qualities that our nation embody.

The cost of ignoring the call of Liberia women for your honorable Minister to resign to safe the image of your government would be far higher than the cost of helping Liberia restore its image and values.

James Torh is a Liberian and can be reached at or

© 2007 by The Perspective

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