By Victoria Saffa
A non-governmental organisation in Sierra Leonewhich advocates for the protection of women’s health and advancing their reproductive right, Ipas, has at a press briefing called on government and stakeholders in the country to ratify the Maputu Protocol.
The Maputu Protocol seeks to provide holistic rights to women, including the right to participate in politics and decision-making, guarantees social and political equality between men and women in the control of their reproductive health, and calls for an end to female genital mutilation. The protocol was adopted by the African Union in the Mozambican capital in 2003
According to Coordinator of Women’s Advocacy and Agricultural Development Organization (WADO), Doris Fatima Webber, who was among six civil society groups from Sierra Leone that attended the Human Rights Committee session in Geneva, Switzerland, in March this year, a shadow report presented to the Committee highlighted five thematic areas, including health, constitutional review, police brutality, rule of law and the issue of unsafe abortion, which she said is a leading cause of maternal mortality and morbidity.
Tamba Deen–Kamara, representing National Youth Coalition, said the CEDAW Committee mentioned unsafe abortion and called on the government to repeal the abortion law, especially cases involving rape, incest, threat to the life or health of mothers and severe fetal impairment.
In her statement, Policy Associate at Ipas, Valerie Tucker, said that although Sierra Leone signed up to the Maputu Protocol in June 2003, it is the only African country is yet to ratify the protocol.
“We have been working closely with different civil society groups, including the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, for the ratification of the Maputu Protocol and that eight team delegation from different Africa countries, including Sudan, Liberia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, among others, will arrive today to discuss women issues and the ratification of the protocol,” she said.