Bio urged to declare rape as national emergency

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January 29, 2019

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

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Executive Director of CWS-SL, Moses Mambu, flank by Madam Martha B. Kanu

Child Welfare Society-Sierra Leone (CWS-SL) a Non-Governmental and Non-Profit making charitable organization, has urged President Julius Maada Bio to declare national emergency on the increasing number of rape and sexual violence against women and children.

“We wish to express our dismay over the alarming rate of child abuse in the country and call on the relevant authorities to take necessary actions to end this menace for the country’s future. Despite the launch of the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ Campaign last year by the First Lady,Fatima Bio, together with other first Ladies from across Africa, rape figures keep increasing instead of decreasing. In a country where access to information and services is a challenge, one can only imagine the number of cases that go unreported,” the statement said.

According to the statement read by the National Coordinator of CWS-SL, Martha B. Kanu, recent statistics from the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police showed that as at last year, 8,505 rape cases were reported nationwide, out of a population of 7.5 million people.

Meanwhile, at the call over ceremony yesterday at the High Court, over 100 sexual violence cases has been assigned to judges.

The Executive Director of CWS-SL, Moses Mambu, told journalists at a joint press conference on Friday that they were going to ensure that they apply more effort in their quest to continue protecting the welfare of children in Sierra Leone.

“If we lay the foundation for our girls to grow well and in dignity, we will be laying the foundation for our economic development because women constitute more than 56% of our country’s population. And they are worthy to be supported. So, we are calling on the general public and policymakers to take seriously our joint press statement,” he said.

He called on all to join hands together to ensure that the issue of rape would be taken as a national emergency so that it can be given the face it deserves for it to be addressed.

Inspector Aminata Kamara attached to the Family Support Unit, New England Ville Police Station, said their job was to investigate all matters relating to rape, but that it has been hindered by the lack of equipment.

She said many rape victims that were issued with medical report form hardly return with the completed forms, especially in those districts where the Rainbow centre, which offers free treatment to rape victims were not available.

 “Many vulnerable people end up compromising the case because of lack of money. Lots of people don’t have the wherewithal to further their cases,” she said

She said the lack of forensic lab has made many accused persons to be left off the hook, stating that most times victims were raped in secret locations and that those cases were difficult to prosecute without forensic evidence.

The organisation called on the Inter-religious Councils to help disseminate information and educate their congregations about rape through their podiums, as was the case with the EVD epidemic.

They also called on the Sierra Leone Police to ensure speedy investigations into rape cases that were before them.