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Sierra Leone News: Women unite against violence

Women champaign against sexual violenceHundreds of women from all works of life representing various groups in the fight against sexual violence joined “power women 232”, last Thursday converged at Lumley Beach to remember the late Hannah Bockarie who was brutally murdered and left on the beach.
At the site were late Hannah’s body was discovered, women and their male counterpart held candles and placards which read various messages appealing to Government to take action and bring those responsible to book.
Speaker after speaker re-emphasized the need for the police to be more robust in investigations, which will lead to the arrest and prosecution of perpetrator(s) of the brutal alleged rape and murder of late Hannah.
Inspector-General of Police, Francis Munu assured the women that the police will leave no stone unturned to get to the root of the matter as to how an innocent 17 year old should lose her life, on a cold windy night.
He called on the public to come forward with credible information that will help the police in its investigations, and added that all information will be treated as confidential.
Representing LAWYERS, Legal Practitioner, Lois Kawa was disappointed over the manner in which the police in Sierra Leone treat sexual violence related cases, noting that after several experiences of representing victims, the offender in some instances walk free as a result of lack of sufficient evidence to hold the person(s) responsible.
She called on Government to adequately equip the police to carry out its function effectively, especially the provision of state of the art forensic laboratories and trained personnel, who will be able to detect and discover possible lead to crimes, irrespective of the time involved, as long as the perpetrator(s) are held accountable for their actions.
Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Moijueh Kaikai was lost for words as he could not face reality, how can a sane human be so barbaric.
He noted that Hannah is the not the first victim to such atrocity, but the manner in which it was carried out is beyond imagination.
Minister Kaikai stated that the ministry on a daily basis receives cases of sexual violence, especially rape, as if the Country has no law on sexual violence.
He reminded the public that Sierra Leone has a law that frowns on sexual violence offenders and that the police in collaboration with the ministry will step up its stance to hold offenders accountable, and give stiff punishment, which will serve as a deterrent to others.
Moijueh Kaikai informed Power Women and all other women groups that Government condemns the act, noting that inspite of what late Hannah did for survival she did not deserve to meet her maker in an untimely and brutal manner.
Concluding Minister Kaikai announced that a reward of Le 5 million will be given to anyone who gives information that will be useful to the police, as they carry out investigations.
Both representatives of UN Women and UNDP in Sierra Leone extended condolences to late Hannah’s family and in equal terms condemned the actions that lead to her demise.
UN Under-Secretary for violence against women, Zainab Bangura sent a prepared statement which was read at the memorial, citing the many pain thousands of women suffer in silence, as a result of sexual violence, which many in rural communities have no option but to get out of court settlement, in the event of such matter, regarding it as a family issue.
She extended her heart to the bereaved family and called for the police to be more robust in the matter for justice to prevail.
Deputy Minister of Youth, Feremusu Conteh called on Government and partners to urgently design more programmes to attract young people which will get them off the streets, for a sustainable livelihood.
She said what late Hannah did for survival was illegal but that does not mean someone should take advantage of situation and exploit her the way it happened.
“Yes there is youth unemployment, but Government cannot stop prostitution trade, it’s a profession, and the police at all times should provide security for citizens” she fumed.
Late Hannah was the eldest of 5 siblings, and her mother described her as very humble and quiet and was shocked about events surrounding her untimely death.
By Ade Campbell
Monday August 24, 2015

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