President Bio: 94% of sexual exploitation victims are women & girls

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President Juilus Maada Bio

By Yusufu S. Bangura

President Juilus Maada Bio has last Friday during the commemoration of the United Nations World Day on Sexual and Gender Based Violence at the State Lodge, Hill station in Freetown, told newsmen that 94% of victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls.

The United Nations declares November 18 “World Day for the Prevention of and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.

“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 94% of victims of sexual exploitation are women and girls. Trafficking for sex alone has an estimated worth of about 99 billion United States Dollars, therefore we have to stop women and girls been used as articles of trade and provide healing for women who have been victims of exploitation and also to create the liberal policies that prevent these heinous crimes from happening in this country and around the world,” he said.

President Bio said about a year ago, the country proposed to the United Nations a resolution declaring 18 November to recognize victims of sexual exploitation and violence, noting that the resolution was jointly supported by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and overwhelmingly supported by many other member states around the world.

He thanked Nigeria and all other countries that supported the resolution as well as local and international partners that are still with them in lifting the veil of shame and pain and assuring victims that they have a space in the free world and that they are not alone.

“Therefore, we are gathered here today to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing of the resolution with silent prayers, and reflection and as testament to who we are as a people as exploitation is all it forms an offering healing to victims all over the world. As a nation, we have witnessed the love, the compassion and tenacity with which we the government have championed issues affecting women and girls, including the launch of the Hands of Our Girls in the city and the declaration of rape as an emergency, review of the Sexual Offences Act, the enactment of a Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Act and Special Courts that deal with this matter,” he said.

He said as the people centred government, they have the class size of barriers that women face and that they remain committed in eliminating them so that they can realize their fullest potentials, as his government is creating safe spaces for girls and women not just through the legal and judicial corridors, but through their human capital development ambition, and free quality education program they have introduced over five years ago.

“Today, I must say with pride that our girls have surpassed their peers in the sub region and the rate at which they finish primary and secondary school education, Sierra Leone is first in the sub region. Today, girls record most passes than boys in school and transition exams in this country. Today, girls enroll more for disciplines like engineering and mathematics than at any other time in the history of this country. In that light, we will continue to give free tuition policy, free tuition for girls studying STEM causes. Therefore, if we support our women and girls we will have a better nation, while 49.6% of the global population are women in Sierra Leone, they constitute 51% of our natural population,” he said.

He ended by calling on everyone in the country to pray for the victims because sexual exploitation and violence is still happening around the world, but together they can voice and together can create a powerful ring of support around them. He further called on interfaith committees to stand against all forms of child sexual exploitation and give the victims the comfort and healing that they so desperately deserve.

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