About 3,000 women, girls and babies were sexually abused in 2018
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has called for perpetrators of rape especially against minors to be jailed for life.
The President made the statement at a ceremony in State House while launching a robust government effort to combat rape and sexual offences against women and children. “Each month, hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assaults are being reported against women, girls and babies with some of the fatalities being as young as three months old and that 70 percent of survivors of the traumatic experience being under the age of 15” he stressed.
President Bio calls on government medical facilities to ensure treatment of sexually abused girls and women to be speedy and free. “I am therefore declaring the fight against sexual violence a national emergency’ President Bio added.
The President adds that according to records”Of nearly 3,000 reported sexual assault cases, 602 of the survivors became pregnant, 7 of them contracted HIV/AIDS, 2,404 had STD’s,thousands more were scared and traumatized by the ordeal. Only 39 of these 3,000 were successfully prosecuted while 2,961 of the survivors of the survivors were denied justice”.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) – Sierra Leone’s president has declared a national emergency over rape and sexual violence, saying perpetrators are getting younger and their acts more violent.
In a keynote address on Thursday, President Julius Maada Bio said hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assault are reported each month in the West African nation against women, girls and babies as young as three months old.
Those who sexually assault minors will face life in imprison, the president declared, saying that some 70 percent of victims are under age 15. The current law carries a maximum penalty of 15 years, and very few cases have been prosecuted.
“With this declaration, I have also directed the following: that all government hospitals must provide free medical treatment and certificate to every victim of rape and sexual abuse,” he said.
Bio’s declaration comes after months of campaigning by activists.
Thousands of cases are unreported because of a culture of silence or indifference, leaving victims traumatized, he said, adding that he wants to increase awareness.
Sierra Leone declares national emergency after girl paralysed by uncle raping her
ST. LUCIA NEWS ONLINE
By Alix Culbertson, news reporter
(SKY NEWS) — The case of a little girl who is paralysed after being raped by her uncle in Sierra Leone has led the president to declare sexual violence a national emergency.
The five-year-old, who is being kept anonymous for her safety, was paralysed from the waist down after her 28-year-old uncle raped her a year ago, crushing her spine.
“She may never walk again, and I want vengeance for what has happened,” her grandmother said.
“The man who did this ruined her life and deserves to spend his life in prison.”
Her case has outraged the West African country, where reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence nearly doubled last year to more than 8,500.
A third of those involved a minor.
But activists, including President Julius Maada Bio’s wife, Fatima, say the actual figures are much higher as most cases are never reported.
The maximum sentence for sexually-motivated crimes was only 15 years in prison, with few cases successfully prosecuted. Many sexual assaults go unpunished.
But after months of campaigning by activists, Mr Bio declared a national emergency and said people convicted of sexual offences against minors would face life in prison.
“Some of our families practise a culture of silence and indifference towards sexual violence, leaving victims even more traumatised,” he told a crowd at the State House.
“We as a nation must stand up and address this scourge.”
Gender-based violence is traditionally seen as a taboo topic in Sierra Leone. Politicians only passed the country’s first gender-equality laws 12 years ago, after pressure from women’s groups.
The policies have been implemented slowly, with police hampered by inadequate resources so criminals have been able to get away with it.
In December the first lady led a protest in the capital, Freetown, to raise awareness of gender-based violence.
She has also launched the Hands Off Our Girls campaign to increase awareness of violence against girls across West Africa.
Activists support the national emergency move, but say progress needs to continue.
Fatmata Sorie, president of LAWYERS, an all-female group of barristers providing pro-bono legal services to vulnerable women and girls, said: “We still need to think about how services for survivors are not accessible, especially for the poor.
“We’ve made a big step today, but this is a very complex issue that will require complex and continuing solutions.”