The Office of the First Lady has been working earnestly in engaging and collaborating with existing structures in the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence. Recently to formally enhance the collaboration between agencies, there was an MOU witnessed by Her Excellency Fatima Maada Bio signed by stakeholders. These agencies formally coming together to synergize their strategy makes them more effective as they complement the effort of the President and his wife in protecting the girls, who are future of the nation.
The event brought together all heads of family support units nationwide and District Coordinators, with the leadership of the Sierra Leone police and the office of the First Lady, where realistic issues of importance were discussed regarding real challenges and success of the FSU.
Addressing the various team heads of the Family Support Unit Nationwide, Her Excellency Madam Fatima Maada Bio noted, that the foundation of guaranteed success of the Hands Off Our Girls and justice for all survivors of sexual penetration cases are embedded in the investigation of the Family Support Unit, hence their work is the root of all what she has been advocating against since 2018 after the launch of the Hands Off Our Girls.
Madam First Lady extends her appreciation to the Sierra Leone Police for supporting her in all of her fundraising programs for the free sanitary Pads project, which has secured for Fourteen Thousand girls nationwide.
She calls on the FSU to work collaboratively in protecting the girl child, as together much can be achieved, more so when the men take the lead in working towards protecting women and girls.
The Head of the Family Support Unit, Superintendent Fatmata Jebbeh Dabor-Kamara, highlighted the transition of the Domestic Violence unit founded in 1999 until when the name was later changed to the Family Support unit years after. Highlighting the progress the FSU has made over the years, she said the unit is established in 77 police stations countrywide and are specialized in investigating issues of sexual offences perpetrated against women and girls.
Madam Kamara commended the commitment President Bio and his wife have shown in the fight against sexual violence through the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign that has awakened the call for justice of victims and survivors globally.
The Director of Crime services, Assistant Inspector General of Police Brimah Jah, highlighted the achievements of the office of the First Lady since the launch of the HOOG in 2018. The HOOG initiative led to the pronouncement of the National Emergency on rape, the amendment of the sexual offences act of 2012, the formation of the Sexual offences model court and respective MOUs from key stakeholders in the fight.
Mr. Jah registered their profound sentiments, as this is the first time in the history of Sierra Leone that the FSU is given such attention and political will, of which has made the work a more challenging but winnable one.
Addressing the team of professionals at the Family Support Unit, the Inspector General of Police cautioned the entire team to deal with survivors professional and with compassion, as that is the only guarantee survivors will have in cooperating with the investigation, as they will feel safe and not blamed.
He called on all investigators to work on all cases without fear or favour from those in high authorities, as he has been instructed to work for the people of Sierra Leone without bias.
Other highlights of the event were contributions on the successes, challenges, and recommendations by the Family Support Unit District Coordinators.