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Discrimination against lesbian, the ordeal of Hawa Fornah

February 2017

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Like other Sierra Leoneans who practices Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) activities in the country, Hawa Fornah have her own ordeal as she currently faced death threats.

Hawa, who was born in Kenema, Eastern region of the country, went on hiding after having been declared wanted by local authorities and vigilantes.

Even though Hawa was suspected to be a member of the LGBT community, her arrest and detention is a mystery to many as she had never been seen to be engaging in any homosexual acts as alleged.

According to one eye-witness named, Yeabu Sesay, who this reporter interviewed, Hawa is an orphan, who lost her father at a young age and her mother died three months ago while living with Hawa’s 2 siblings.

Ms Yeabu lamented that on the date in question, Hawa was suspected of engaging in homosexual acts (Lesbian)with another lady who goes by the name, Theresa Bangura and this she said without concrete facts.

The community suspicious arose and some local mobs started biting and assaulted Hawa and Theresa and immediately thereafter they were arrested by tribal heads.

These tribal men’s are more glue and opens only to their traditional practices and beliefs and always prosecutes those who go against their laws and practices.

Festus Fomba, a Kenema resident who knows the Hawa Fornah’ story quite well and also happens to be one of the tribal law enforcers said – they were keeping a watchful eye on Hawa for quite some time.

When pressed further as to whether the charge levied against Hawa is based on rumoured and not facts as been said by some community members, he went on to say that, Hawa has been caught engaging in homosexual acts ( Lesbian).

Mr Fomba continues that this is not the first time Hawa has been engaging in homosexual acts (Lesbian), and neither the second and therefore they would ensure that she faced the full force of the laws.

The desperate search for Hawa and her acute disappearance led authorities to declared her wanted and while the youth were said to have burnt down her family house with the whereabouts of her 2 sisters still unknown.

In 2004, Sierra Leone received sad news when FannyAnn Eddy, founder of the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association and a lesbian rights activist known across Africa was brutally murder.

Eddy was found dead on the morning of September 29. While she was at the Sierra Leone Lesbian and Gay Association offices the previous night, and her assailants broke into the premises.

She was raped repeatedly, stabbed and her neck was broken. Her activism’s urges the government to bring to justice those who are responsible, and since then members of her organization continued to face harassment, beatings and arbitrary arrests by local authorities in the country.
The treatments faced by members of the LGBT community in the country and Africa as a whole continue to be condemned by the International communities and other Human Rights organisations but the African government seems unwilling to act.

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