Sexual Violence has been an incessant problem affecting Sierra Leone and the rest of the world. It is commonly perceived as any sexual act or attempt to have an intimate act by violence or coercion. It is also considered as an act which traffics a person’s comfort by throwing a direct assault against an individual’s sexuality.
Example of some of these attitudes can be rape, smacking, forced abortion, sexual slavery, forced marriage, unwanted touching of the breast and other parts of an individual.
Undoubtedly, sexual violence has become common today, and it is extensively spreading at a swift pace. Sexual violence is deemed as one of the most excruciating, pervasive, and most common human rights violations.
Evidently, the majority of victims of sexual violence are women, more specifically young girls. There are trends of serious reported cases of sexual violence nationwide, and it is becoming too common every day. Looking into sexual violence cases in Sierra Leone, for example, 2018/19 data portrayed a hike in the number of such cases in every part of the country with Kenema and Kono districts recording the highest according to news reports.
On the 22nd of March 2019, in a remote area in the eastern district of Kono, an unfortunate report mentioned the death of a 12-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped. This news was published both local and international news headlines. Allegedly, police report implicated a 56-year-old man as the perpetrator of such a gruesome act.
Obviously, the aforementioned occurrence has marked serious many questions of the security of our women and girls today. It literally positioned our society as unsafe for women and girls.
Undoubtedly, though the acts of sexual violence have been persistent, yet, the government and non-governmental entities are striving in various ways to combat the “pandemic” that carries so many negative ramifications on our society. The fight was intensified by the launch of the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign by Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Maada Bio, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Followed next by Black Tuesday Campaign, actions from Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police In and a declaration of rape as a national emergency by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
This and many more cases have signified the ill effect of sexual violence, which has been used as a weapon by perpetrators to demean and humiliate women.
As a feminist writer, I strongly condemn the act of sexual violence and seek to promote the rights of women in Sierra Leone and beyond. I encourage everyone to frown at such barbaric acts that have succeeded to barter, demean and cause unending suffering on millions of women and girls nationwide.
Women and girls are strong, intelligent, and adorable partners to national growth. Therefore, women must be cared for with respect and dignity and must be granted a good quality education. Women are the backbone for development and change. I invite all Sierra Leoneans and the world at large to discourage all forms of discriminations and gender inequalities against women to achieve a fair gender-just world where women can be themselves and valued in the scale.
The Author: Phebe John