Port Loko calls for dignity of women respected
Port Loko, Feb. 24 (SLENA) – The people of Port Loko District have called on civil rights organisations and other relevant institutions to engage themselves in effective advocacy and lobbying for the protection and restoration of the dignity of women and the girl child. (Photo: Port Loko women calling for effective advocacy in the restoration of the dignity of women and girls)
The clarion call was made in observance of Valentine Day in the district and a well attended procession that took them to key institutions in the headquarter town including the Port Loko Government Hospital, the Catholic Secondary School and the Police Headquarters of the North/ Western Region.
The district coordinator for the campaign and also spokesperson during the procession, Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay informed the authorities in the town that the women of this country and the continent of Africa as a whole, were on a one billion raising for justice campaign, and would not only like their solid support, but that doctors and nurses should see rape victims as part of the free medical care service.
She cited a recent incident in which a rape victim had to drop her case simply because she could not meet with the medical charges levied on her at the government hospital.
At the Police Regional Headquarters, Madam Turay explained how the age old pattern whereby a police officer can simply maltreat a person with the claim that it is an ‘order from above’ has destroyed society, as it has often led to unlawful arrests and subsequent detention of defenceless people.
She urged the police to ensure that there is justice for women and girls, noting that selective justice is a recipe for chaos in society and called on the Police to help stop rape, domestic violence and early marriage.
Responding on behalf of AIG Daboh, Staff Officer of the North/Western Regional Headquarters, Alhajie Sankoh informed the gathering about the restructuring programmes that have so far been introduced by the Senior Management of the Sierra Leone Police and that there was now a specialised Family Support Unit that specifically handles domestic violence, sexual offences and women related issues.
He however outlined some of the challenges the police is often faced with in rape and related offences, wherein a case is required to be proven above all reasonable doubts, adding that the issue of a medical paper could be just one of the several stages in such cases.
The Staff officer said even though the police has established the Family Support Unit which is mostly been headed by female personnel, and has accelerated promotions for women and continues to observe the principle of confidentiality in the investigation of such matters, the problem could be better addressed if the laws are revisited or the police is equipped enough to enable it cope with modern technologies.
Whiles explaining a brief history of the Valentine’s Day, a representative of Women in Gender Action from the Kenema District, Madam Nancy Joko stressed the need to have champions, movers, and shakers as epitomised by Eve Endsler in her campaign on Violence Against Women.
Madam Joko said female genital mutilation, rape and sexual violence were shrouded in a culture of silence until when it was broken by Valentine, adding that the ‘V Day’ started 14 years ago with the objective of ending violence against women and that activists in over 140 countries around the world demand an end to violence against women and girls.
She however noted that one in three women was been beaten or raped, which implied that over a billon women globally experience violence in spite of all these efforts and spoke of how the campaign gathered momentum at the African Rising V-Day Summit held at the Safari Park Hotel in Kenya to look at the ravages and ramifications of violence against women in Africa.
According to Madam Rugiatu Neneh Turay, this resulted in the declaration for a One Billion Raising Initiative to raise awareness on violence against women in Africa and beyond, with the aim of building solidarity and end the violence on women.
She said the first V- African Summit reflected on the situation of violence and how it has ravaged the Africa continent through conflicts, wars and political instability and how it has resulted in a cross violation of women’s human rights.
She said even though conventions, resolutions and protocols to protect women and girls from these atrocities are in place, violence continues to be perpetuated against them, adding that women’s bodies have become the arena of war, saying women and girls were being discriminated in education, denied free access to medical care, subjected to sexual harassment, compelled to female genital mutilation [FGM] and early marriage and treated as if they are second class citizens in their countries.
The Port Loko District Coordinator said such a pattern has the potential to increase HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and would therefore like all African Governments to ratify and ensure the effective implementation and harmonization of these conventions in their local laws by 2020.
Her statement was buttressed by several speakers including the Matron at the Port Loko Government Hospital, Sr. Rebecca Morlu, and the representatives of civil society and the District Council, respectively.
The Senior District Office, Mohamed Sheik Kargbo registered his support and urged parents to help their daughters know some of the dangers imbedded in early sex, as child bearing goes with very serious responsibilities.
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