February 1, 2019
By Francis Gabiddon Barrister – At – Law and Lecturer in International Human Rights Law, Fourah Bay College.
The decision by the First Lady to lead the important campaign of “hands off our girls” is a momentous one. Rape and Sexual Abuse of women and girls in Sierra Leone is now of epidemic proportion.
Only a collective effort by the Police, Doctors, Lawyers, Social Welfares Officers and the Judiciary can crush this Malady in our society.
Our laws against Sexual Offences have to be amended so that severe and maximum punishment have to be inflicted on sexual predators or miscreants that prowl our villages, towns, streets and houses, looking for victims.
Life imprisonment sentences or very long years in prison should be regularly imposed on those found guilty of these terrible offences.
The long years in prison should serve as a deterrent to possible future offenders.
Sierra Leone needs a State of the Art and Modern Forensic Laboratory. To carry out a variety of tests for blood, urine, semen and other tests related to sexual crimes.
Another major problem in Sierra Leone is that we have no Laboratory to undergo DNA Tests
A private laboratory in Freetown assists in getting “DNA TEST” sent to other African countries for such tests to be carried out. In any case Sierra Leone needs a LAB or centre where DNA tests can be carried out in the country. This LAB will greatly help investigations as quickly as possible to fast track prosecutions and eventual trial of suspects and offenders.
The Medical School should train Sierra Leoneans in modern laboratory technology and methods to tackle sexual diseases such as AIDS, sexual transmitted diseases, syphilis, hepatitis A, B, C & D and other venereal diseases.
A good and modern LAB will greatly assist in the fight against Sexual and Rape offences.
Hospitals and clinics should stop requesting for money from victims of Rape and Sexual offences. This corruption should stop now. Victims of sexual abuse should not pay a cent for medical reports from medical centres. The reports should be free and Doctors should not withhold these reports from victims. This practice should change also now.
A lot of sensitization should be done to educate and explain to some of our men that it is wrong, immoral and illegal to have sex with young girls and babies for cultural, tribal cult or ritual reasons.
These outdated myths should now be considered dead and buried; and men who rape and violate young girls for these reasons should be prosecuted and locked up for a very long time to isolate them from society at large.
Finally, we should train more pathologists or encourage those abroad to return home.
I don’t know whether we have a Sierra Leonean Venerologist to help our Doctors with specialized knowledge in venereal diseases, but this a Specialty that needs to be encouraged.
The sooner some of these reforms are addressed, the better the situation for women in Sierra Leone.