‘One motorcycle to cover five chiefdoms’
October 28, 2016 By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)
It’s like sending a soldier to the war front without a gun, said Line Manager of the Family Support Unit (FSU) in Kailahun, Eastern Sierra Leone, Sgt. Alpha Dicey Koroma, attempting to summarise the constraints of the Unit in fighting gender based violence in the district.
“Mobility is the biggest challenge we are facing. We cover five chiefdoms and we only have one motorcycle,” explained Koroma.
The FSU based in Kailahun town is responsible for Upper Bambara, Kissi Kama, Kissi Tongi, Kissi Teng and Luawa chiefdoms, areas with some of the most deplorable roads in the country.
Kailahun is among the districts recording high cases of gender based violence in the last three years or so. According to Koroma, the Unit has recorded 461 cases since January 2016. Of these, 146 are neglect, 125 physical abuse, 63 economic abuse, 43 intimidation, 42 sexual penetration, 38 emotional abuse, five rape and two bestiality.
Among these cases, he continued, the Unit charged 114 to court whilst the remaining cases are still undergoing investigation.
“Suspects are on the run to neighbouring countries of Liberia and Guinea, but we have issued warrants for their arrests through Interpol,” said Koroma.
Other challenges hindering the work of the FSU in bringing alleged perpetrators to justice, according to Koroma, include lack of cooperation from victims and their parents to come forward to testify in court, lack of free medical services which the Police depend on for evidence, compromise by families of victims, and limited funds to embark on community sensitization and awareness-raising on the four gender Acts.
There’s also a challenge in handling juvenile offenders without a child panel court, a safe home and a child welfare committee.
“These juveniles are the ones mostly committing the GBV crimes, including burglary and house-breaking and they are posing a lot of threat for us. We are always in a dilemma of whether to charge or not to charge to court. There’s no detention center for juveniles in the whole Eastern Region,” said Koroma.
In addition, Koroma reported that teenage pregnancy is on the increase in Kailahun, recording about 200 cases since 2015, mostly occurring in Kissi Kama chiefdom.
The FSU Line Manager was speaking at a District Accountability Forum organized by SEND Sierra Leone under the project: In Their Life Time, on 20th October, 2016 at the Youth Center, Old Barracks Road, Kailahun. The forum brings together district stakeholders including the Police, the resident Magistrate, Councilors, women groups, Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Paramount Chiefs and religious leaders to give progress reports on GBV situation in the district.