There is an increase in efforts to address the spates of violence and abuse against women in society but unfortunately the level of reported cases nationwide seems such efforts are falling on deaf ears.
According to statistics released by the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police, a total of 11, 358 sexual and domestic violence (and 77 rape cases) were reported nationwide in 2014. Of that number 2, 124 were related to child sexual abuses. In retrospect, 522 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2011; 4,452 in 2012 and 7,391 in 2013.
This number is alarming and needs urgent intervention by all the stakeholders in society, especially the police, local headmen, political leaders and international stakeholders to mitigate the suffering of the millions of vulnerable women and girls in the country.
Many women and girls are victims of this vicious circle and because of traditional belief and its influence in the dispensation of justice in the rural sector and poor capacity of police personnel and the challenges faced by the court system, victims suffer in silence.
Poverty, illiteracy and societal view of women and girls in society are few of the major reasons denying our women and girls the foundation for development and until the laws are made to proactively protect them, the many public campaigns will only add to frustrate those presently being abused and rights violated in society.
WIMSAL (Women in the Media Sierra Leone) has also called on Parliament to hurry the review of the Offences against the Persons Act of 1861 to save women and girls that are dying from unsafe abortion.
WIMSAL President, Asmaa James Kamara, describes sections 58 and 59 of the Act, which deals with Abortion, as ‘prohibitive and restrictive’.
“These sections do nothing more than undermine the health and safety of many young women and girls in the country,” said Asmaa.
We agree with Asmaa and hope our legislature will stand up to the test and make women and girls of Sierra Leone proud and safe citizens.