UNCT condemns horrendous and heinous act against women


…calls for prompt, thorough and independent investigation

August 21, 2015

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Sierra Leone has in a press release condemned the alleged rape and murder of a young woman at Lumley Beach, in Freetown on 13 August.

The release says UNCT was shocked by report of the brutal rape and murder of Hannah Bockarie, 18.

The release describes the act as “horrendous” and “heinous” and calls on the Sierra Leone Government to conduct prompt, thorough and independent investigation into the woman’s death and to bring perpetrators o justice.

“The UN Team conveys it heartfelt sympathy to Hannah’s mother and family,” the release adds.

The release says the UN recalls that sexual assault against women, especially gang rape, was rampant during the eleven year civil war in Sierra Leone, and that UNCT is aware that the Government of Sierra Leone had enacted the Sexual Offences Act in 2007.

“In addition, it [UNCT] reminds the authorities that Sierra Leone ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Right of Women in Africa, a Charter that requests the state parties to protect women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence,” the release maintains.

The release says that “States Parties shall adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure the protection of every woman’s right, respect for her dignity and protection of women from all forms of violence, particularly sexual and verbal violence,” quoting Article 3/4, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Right of Women in Africa).

“Sexual violence in public spaces, like Lumley Beach, is what makes cities across the world unsafe for women and girls,” the release quotes David McLachlan-Karr, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, to have said. “This horrific and barbaric act is a clear example of the kind of violence against women that limits the ability of women and girls to reach their full potential and exercise their basic human rights”.
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The release underscores that the UNCT is encouraged to note the various actions taken by the women’s movement in the country and pledge the UN’s support to continue to stand by the women of Sierra Leone in the promotion of their social, political and economic rights.

It also calls on stakeholders, including the Government of Sierra Leone, the police, women’s organizations, men, young people, the media and the private sector to work diligently and speedily in the investigation of the case and to join forces in the fight against impunity for violence committed too often against women.

Meanwhile, the UN System has called on Sierra Leonean authorities to dedicate more resources to raise public awareness about such crimes and to toughen sanctions against those that commit acts of violence against women and girls.

“To make the world a safer place for women and girls, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008, noting that the campaign is managed by UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, that focuses exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment,” the release concludes.