The assault allegations touched a nerve with Liberians at home and abroad, as outrage spread on social media and in the local press. Graphic photos posted on Facebook after the assault show Glain in a black tank top, her eyes closed as rivers of blood stream down her face and chest.
“Something must be done,” read one Facebook post
that generated hundreds of comments and shares.
Within about 24 hours of that post, the administration of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced that the alleged assailant, Deputy Director for Operations of the Executive Protection Service Darlington George, had been dismissed from his post.
A release announcing the firing
and exploration of charges against George said the government “will not condone such acts of sheer indiscipline and total lack of morals on the part of any member of State security institutions.” He was arrested by police the following day, Glain said.
George, who could not be reached for comment by Refinery29 as of Wednesday, told the Associated Press
that he could not comment “until I am given the green light to do so.” The communications director for the country’s Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs declined to comment further on the incident.
Although advocates celebrated the government’s swift response, they pointed out that Glain is far from alone. Her traumatic experience, they said, is just one example of a broader issue of violence against women and abuse of power by law-enforcement officials in the West African nation.
Georgia Genoway, a close friend of Glain’s who led the call for justice on social media, said a culture of harassment leaves many Liberian women afraid to go out alone. Verbal and physical assaults go unreported, she said, because people believe no punishment will come of the allegations.
“Men who are in Liberia, they tend to be aggressive to you. Especially if you are at the beach or you are in the bar, if you are in the club,” Genoway said. “It’s not safe to be out alone.”
Pamela Scully, a professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and African studies at Emory University, said that in Liberia, “like many other post-conflict societies, violence against women remains an enduring issue.”
The outcry over this incident, Scully said, may also reflect growing fears that the country’s progress in recovering from years of civil conflict and a corrupt and abusive system of government is beginning to slip.
But she said the reaction to the allegations — both on social media and by the Sirleaf administration — speaks volumes about the ability to use social media to hold authorities and governments accountable. She compared the case to the ongoing online push to call attention to police killings of unarmed Black men in the United States.