Members of the task force on sexual and gender based violence in the Office of the First Lady have called at State House to present their report and explain their findings to President Julius Maada Bio.
Before their presentation, the First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio, said the team had put together a quick report on their achievements since they were formed into the task force charged with the responsibility of looking into cases of rape and sexual based violence in the country.
She also stated that the team of very experienced people was also mandated to provide solutions to the many challenges affecting the fight against rape and sexual based violence, adding that that was as important to make sure that women and girls were safe as it was also necessary to attain gender equality.
“Thank you very much, Your Excellency, for making this fight one of your priorities and for believing in this task force to work together to find an everlasting solution that will definitely see the end of Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the country,” she noted.
She added that the task force had a memorandum of understanding with some strategic partners dealing with rape and sexual based violence in the country, citing the likes of Don Bosco, Aberdeen Women’s Centre, the National Emergency Medical Centre, and LAWYERS, to help strengthen their commitment to the cause.
“We have also signed an MOU with the Sierra Leone Female Medical Association, a group of young doctors who are willing to work with us in their respective hospitals, to make sure that victims who are brought to the hospitals are treated immediately,” she explained.
Director of Public Prosecution, Easmon Ngakui, said that since President Bio’s proclamation of a State of Emergency regarding Rape and Sexual Violence in 2019, they had secured 152 convictions. He added that after the establishment of the Sexual Offences Model Court in July this year they had secured 64 convictions.
“We are very happy with the progress so far. There was a culture of silence on rape and sexual based violence in Sierra Leone, but since that pronouncement and after the establishment of the Sexual Offences Model Court, there has been a rapid flow of complaints dating back five years ago,” he said.
The law officer also noted that they had observed that in many cases the perpetrators and children were between the ages of 5 -17 years, and that if something was not done, socially to combat the menace, the country could lose out on the current generation.
In response, President Bio thanked the First Lady and the task force on sexual and gender based violence for their commitment and the things they had done to help in the protection of girls and women.
“This is about our children. As we prepare the grounds for prosecution and case management at different stages, I want us to pay more attention to heightening prevention. If we can, let us prevent it, so we don’t have a reason to go to court or to go to the hospital,” he said.