She informed AYV that the Rainbo Center is a privately run facility that cares for women and girls who suffer sexual violence and which also provides medical and psychosocial services to support the well-being of victims.
According to her, this increase in rape in Kenema District comes at a time when President Julius Maada Bio declared rape a national emergency in the country.
Giving a breakdown of the number of rape cases she said it is as follows: “The center received 70 cases in January, 52 in February, 54 in March and 10 in April.” She added that they are yet to tally the final data for May 2019.
In a related development, the Assistant Director East, Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Alice Jeneba Koroma, described the statistics as worrying, adding that government is working on a new regulation to protect girls and women from such abuse.
She said: “Government is working on a law that will punish the perpetrators for these offences. Until the relevant laws are enforced fully, without any compromise, these girls will not be fully protected,” Koroma maintained.
According to Jalloh, the spate of the increase has caused a strain on the already tight resources of the Rainbo Center. “At the moment we are stretched. We do not only attend to patients in Kenema but also from Kailahun, Kono and even some areas in Liberia,” she added.
She went on to state that the Rainbo Kenema office is the only place in the eastern region that has the appropriate facility to do the relevant tests. “It is only our medical examination on sexual matters that can be tendered in court for prosecution,” she added.
The head of the Family Support Unit in Kenema, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mustapha Benson Konneh confirmed to AYV that the situation is desperate. “Sexual penetration in the district is on the increase. We get more reports on gender based violence more than any other reports per week,” he informed AYV.
He went on to state that the situation is getting worse because relatives of the victims are mostly not cooperating with the Police to seek justice for the victims. “Most of the time we receive intelligence from community members about rape matters but when incidents of such nature occur, the relatives often prefer to handle the matter secretly at family level which is always at the expense of the victim,” he said.
Jalloh further informed AYV that in extremely rural areas in Kenema, the situation might even be worse. Authorities say there are many cases of rape that are not even reported because of family intervention.
She went on to state that at the moment, the Rainbo Center most of the girls that are found pregnant after the test are then sent to the under-five units in the Kenema Government Hospital, while those living in the rural areas are referred to other Public Health Units.
To tackle the situation, she said the Center is embarking on a wide sensitization programs in the district, targeting schools and places of worship. “In Kenema City we have targeted 24 primary and 8 secondary schools. We will also include stakeholders, while trying to reach out to the rural areas of the district, especially teachers and religious leaders.”
She lamented however that there are “numerous challenges in doing our job, such as the lack of mobility to reach far-flung places, stationeries to run the office and even electricity. It is hard for us to do our job if EDSA doesn’t provide electricity,” she said.