Sierra Leone: Increase in Reported Rape Cases

Women in the Media Sierra Leone (WIMSAL) wishes to express its disappointment over the recent increase in the number of reported rape cases in Sierra Leone. It is disheartening to note that in the month of May alone, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs recorded over 100 rape and other sexual related cases of girls mostly under 14 in Freetown.

WIMSAL notes that, this is a very crucial human right violation that causes severe physical and psychological damage that these girls could endure for lifetime. In as much as we appreciate the bravery of survivors and the communities for reporting these cases, and the charges brought against perpetrators under the recent Sexual Offences Act, there are still challenges in the area of law enforcement.

This is evident by the backlog of rape and sexual related cases in court as we also look forward to a high conviction rate.

WIMSAL believes the punishment for rape is not commensurate to the crime being committed, especially so in consideration of the physical and psychological effect of rape. We ask that punishment for rape be made stringent in order to halt the spate of increase. WIMSAL also believes the level of awareness on this issue is still not enough at societal levels, thus as a media organization, we will endeavour to send the message, using the tools we have, to reach every facet of our society. WIMSAL therefore calls on the judiciary to ensure speedy trial of rape and sexual related cases and private lawyers to come to the aid of rape survivors. We also urge the Government to provide adequate medical care and support for survivors of rape and sexual related cases, as the Rainbow Centre that largely provides counseling and medical services for survivors is transforming into a local based organization.

WIMSAL is also calling on relatives of rape survivors to desist from compromising rape and other sexual related offences, as it is a human right violation and has the tendency to destroy the fabric of society.

Fatima Sesay National Secretary General

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