Sierra Leone’s President Declares ‘Rape Scourge’ a National Emergency

Must Read

African Tribe: The Artistic Ndebeles of Southern Africa

The Ndebeles are an African ethnic group living in South Africa and Zimbabwe known for their artistic talent, especially with regard to their painted houses and colorful beadwork. Not much is known about these people except that they originated from the larger Nguni tribes who make up almost two thirds of the black population in South Africa.

Matriarchal Communities in Africa: African Communities Where Women Reign Supreme

From the Umoja community in Northern Kenya to the small rural community of Arnado Debbo in Niger state, Nigeria. These here are three African communities with long-standing traditions where to be a woman is superior.

African Tribe: The Dinka People Of South Sudan

The Dinka are a pastoral-agricultural people that make up the largest ethnic group in South Sudan. They vary their lifestyle by season – in the rainy season they live in permanent savannah settlements and raise grain crops like millet,



The brutal rape of a young girl by her uncle in Sierra Leone became the rallying point for a campaign that on Thursday pushed President Julius Maada Bio to declare the prevalence of sexual violence a national emergency.

Sierra Leone's President Declares 'Rape Scourge ' a National Emergency

The five-year-old girl, whose identity has been kept secret for her own safety, has been paralyzed from the waist down since a 28-year-old male relative raped her a year ago, crushing her spine.

“She may never walk again, and I want vengeance for what has happened,” her grandmother told Reuters, sitting next to the girl in her wheelchair in a Freetown medical clinic.

“The man who did this ruined her life and deserves to spend his life in prison.”

The assault was one of many that have gone unpunished in Sierra Leone, where until now sexually-motivated crimes carried a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and few cases were successfully prosecuted.

Following months of campaigning by activists, the president declared a national emergency and said those convicted of sexual offences against minors would face life in prison.

“Some of our families practise a culture of silence and indifference towards sexual violence, leaving victims even more traumatized,” Bio told a crowd at the State House.

“We as a nation must stand up and address this scourge.”

According to police statistics, reported cases of sexual and gender-based violence nearly doubled last year to over 8,500, a third of which involved a minor. Activists, including First Lady Fatima Bio, say the actual figures are much higher as most cases are never reported.

Gender-based violence is a traditionally seen as a taboo topic in Sierra Leone. Only 12 years ago parliament passed its first gender equality laws in 46 years of independence, following lobbying efforts by women’s rights groups.

Related:   Ethiopia: Faces Of The Karo People

Implementation of these policies has been slow and law enforcement agencies have been hampered by inadequate resources, promoting a culture of impunity.

In December, the first lady led a demonstration in the capital to raise awareness of the issue, and has since launched her “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign to increase awareness of violence against girls across West Africa.

The president’s declaration of a national emergency is seen as a step in the right direction, but activists such as Fatmata Sorie (president of Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice) say progress must continue.

“We’ve made a big step today, but this is a very complex issue that will require complex and continuing solutions,” she said.



Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

Subscribe to receive email updates

With a subscription profile, you automatically receive updates without having to return to the website and check for changes

Just In

African Tribe: The Artistic Ndebeles of Southern Africa

The Ndebeles are an African ethnic group living in South Africa and Zimbabwe known for their artistic talent, especially with regard to their painted houses and colorful beadwork. Not much is known about these people except that they originated from the larger Nguni tribes who make up almost two thirds of the black population in South Africa.

Matriarchal Communities in Africa: African Communities Where Women Reign Supreme

From the Umoja community in Northern Kenya to the small rural community of Arnado Debbo in Niger state, Nigeria. These here are three African communities with long-standing traditions where to be a woman is superior.

African Tribe: The Dinka People Of South Sudan

The Dinka are a pastoral-agricultural people that make up the largest ethnic group in South Sudan. They vary their lifestyle by season – in the rainy season they live in permanent savannah settlements and raise grain crops like millet,

For The First Time, Married Women In Botswana Can Own Land Alongside Their Husbands

Married women in Botswana can for the first time be allocated state land even if their husbands already have an allocation of their own, President Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.

Slave Brokerage: How Early U.S. Newspapers Facilitated The Sales And Purchase Of Slaves

In the earliest history of US stock brokerage, one stock stood out both in nature and the revenue it generated – humans. The more preferred name for the merchandise was slave, and the stock market were the first US newspapers

More Articles Like This