12, 2016 -
As the world observed the international day dedicated to
focus on the needs of women and girls, it is all hot air
from the smoke and mirrors rat at State House who has
never publicly condemned sexual and other violence
against women in Sierra Leone.
Tuesday of this week, 8th March was
observed by all responsible and caring governments to
focus on the plight of women and girls. This year's
theme - parity - is a message to all governments to
increase the participation of women in all spheres of
life - from government, through Parliamentary
representations to a determined effort to have qualified
women standing shoulder to shoulder with their male
counterparts as a sign of appreciation and respect for
the contribution of our women folk in the long march to
50-50 parity in gender.
We visited the State House website to
see just how much weight the thing which passes for a
government gave to the affairs of women and girls and we
were not that surprised to note that what they had was
the rat responding to issues raised by women at a
symposium at which the lead address was delivered by one
Sia Nyama Koroma, the country's First Lady.
We wanted to read the concerns raised
by the women in what appeared to a a down-to-earth
hard-hitting speech by the First Lady but alas all we
got on the State House website was a report headlined -
Women's Day is a moment of reflection - President Koroma"
which among other things stated -
"Whilst he acknowledged the need for
gender empowerment, he (the rat that is) emphasized the
need for the protection of the rights of women and
girls. The president described the International Women’s
Day as a moment of reflection on progress made and the
challenges relating to the attainment of gender
On the position paper which was
presented by the First Lady, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, the
president said some of the issues have already been
addressed, and called on the women to continue to
support his efforts in promoting gender parity and
President Koroma encouraged women to
stand up for their rights and follow up on any acts of
abuse or rape against them. He went on to note that
women should monitor and report cases of corruption in
the implementation of the free health care imitative."
So where is the full speech delivered
by the First Lady that would enable us and others to do
an analysis of the shape of things in the country? Her
speech was nowhere to be seen and a visit to the website
of the First Lady showed that that channel of
information had long ago lain fallow with no update of
the pages since 2011!!! However not to be discouraged we
pressed on and low and behold discovered this gem on the
pages of the
"...the First Lady of the Republic of
Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma together with women in
the country called for 50% quota in governance. While
she was presenting a position paper to President Ernest
Bai Koroma on the theme “Pledge for Parity for an
Engendered Constitution” at the Miata Conference Centre,
she said since the population of women in the country is
over 50%, they as women are looking forward to more
women being appointed in leadership positions.
She stated that under the government
of the President, the country has made series of
commitments both at regional and national level “but we
are yet to translate it so that it impact on women and
the country at large”.
She said that they are therefore
advocating that the current draft constitution addresses
the economic, social, political and cultural rights of
women and girls. In addition to that she said the new
constitution should take into consideration women
leadership and participation. Also, she said provisions
that guide the affirmative action for women should be
made and these provisions, she maintained, should
clearly spell out the gender equality objective with
enactment of the gender equality bill."
We have, in the past, heard the
speeches by government officials when March 8 is upon us
and so far we have not seen any follow-up to what had
been pledged in previous years but are heartened by this
line in the official State House report -
"President Koroma encouraged women to
stand up for their rights and follow up on any acts of
abuse or rape against them..." which leads to questions
relating to the government's policy of addressing sexual
violence against women and girls.
The Concord Times news outlet reminds
us of the tragedy that is still being played out in the
country. In an article headlined "Tradition
and Culture Blamed for Injustice Against Rape Victims"
we have this -
"Tradition and cultural practices
continue to hinder the administration of justice for
survivors and victims of rape and other forms of
violence against women and girls, says Councillor
Theresa Garba of Ward 05 in the Kailahun district.
While presenting a position paper on
behalf of women and girls during a peaceful protest in
the district against rape and sexual violence last
Thursday, Ms Garba said traditional rulers are not doing
enough to enforce codes and bye-laws that prescribe
punishment for perpetrators of rape and gender based
violence against women and girls.
She expressed grave concern that the
three Gender Acts have not been effectively enforced to
punish perpetrators of rape and other violence against
women and girls. She revealed that Kailahun district,
with a population of 409,502, has no resident magistrate
to administer justice to victims of rape and violence.
Gender based violence, in particular rape, is prevalent
in Sierra Leone, with Kailahun district being one of the
worst hit districts.
There have been reports of rape and
deaths caused by rape in the district in recent weeks,
thus prompting women’s groups to march, dressed in
black, with calls for action against perpetrators and
more protection for women and girls."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in
his message highlighted action he's taken to address the
disparity between the genders showing once more that
speeches and promises if not implemented or taken
seriously would just be hot air to impress audiences as
we find in Sierra Leone.
The UN Chief Scribe says
"As a boy growing up in post-war
Korea, I remember asking about a tradition I observed:
women going into labour would leave their shoes at the
threshold and then look back in fear.
“They are wondering if they will ever
step into those shoes again,” my mother explained. More
than a half-century later, the memory continues to haunt
In poor parts of the world today,
women still risk death in the process of giving life.
Maternal mortality is one of many preventable perils.
All too often, female babies are subjected to genital
mutilation. Girls are attacked on their way to school.
Women’s bodies are used as battlefields in wars. Widows
are shunned and impoverished.
We can only address these problems by
empowering women as agents of change. For more than nine
years, I have put this philosophy into practice at the
We have shattered so many glass
ceilings we created a carpet of shards. Now we are
sweeping away the assumptions and bias of the past so
women can advance across new frontiers.
I appointed the first-ever female
Force Commander of United Nations troops, and pushed
women’s representation at the upper levels of our
Organization to historic highs. Women are now leaders at
the heart of peace and security – a realm that was once
the exclusive province of men. When I arrived at the
United Nations, there were no women leading our peace
missions in the field. Now, nearly a quarter of all UN
missions are headed by women – far from enough but still
a vast improvement."
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is the
Executive Director of the international body, UN Women
and part of
her message is the
empowerment of women and girls -
"This year’s celebration of International Women’s Day is
the first within the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. Gender equality and the empowerment of
women and girls are confidently asserted in that Agenda
as intrinsic to progress.
The new Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals include a
specific goal to achieve gender equality, which aims to
end discrimination and violence against women and girls
and ensure equal participation and opportunities in all
spheres of life.
Important provisions for women’s
empowerment are also included in most of the other
In conjunction with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda,
more than 90 governments have answered UN Women’s call
for action to “Step It Up for Gender Equality”.
State and Government have pledged concrete and
measurable actions to crack some of the fundamental
barriers to the achievement of gender equality in their
To arrive at the future we want, we cannot leave anyone
behind. We have to start with those who are the least
regarded. These are largely women and girls, although in
poor and troubled areas, they can also include boys and
We have, time and again shone the
on rape and other acts of sexual
violence on women and girls within the
borders of Sierra Leone urging the government and law
enforcement officials to bring to book all those accused
of these crimes. Time and again, it's all hot air and
nothing is being done to bring perpetrators to justice.
One government official, Deputy Education minister
Mahmoud Tarawallie, using his position was accused of
raping a lady who believed that she would be getting an
opportunity to study abroad.
Reports later emerged that she was
allegedly raped by a beast in human form who was
relieved from his political position and nothing else
leaving the alleged victim wondering whether there's
justice for women of his type in Sierra Leone especially
as some news outlet with close links to the government
made it appear that the victim consented,
illegally identifying her
as well as painting the poor lady as deserving of the
sexual violence allegedly perpetrated against her.
We would again call for a proper
forensic kit that would link the DNA of perpetrators to
their victims and this is where the international
community should step in to help.
If they can step up to the plate in
the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease, we kindly ask
them to spare a thought for the victims of rape and
other acts of sexual violence whose attackers are always
let off the hook on the pretext that there is no
forensic kit to nail the perpetrators.
We say this when allegations of rape
were made by women at the SLPP headquarters after hordes
of ruling party operatives led by Mayor Herbert
George-Williams, Leatherboot, the personal bodyguard of
the rat, thugs like Government Wharf and others visited
violence on their perceived political opponents. Time
for help please.
The war was officially declared over
in 2002 - a war which saw rape and other acts of sexual
violence against women and girls
used as a weapon of war.
Fourteen years later, we appeal to the international
community to help Sierra Leone with these vital forensic
kits that would help bring the perpetrators to justice.
As far as we know, the rat has never
come out to publicly condemn violence against women -
from the attacks on women at the SLPP headquarters
through the murder of Hannah Bockarie to other such acts
perpetuated in Freetown and other parts of the country.
This is what creates an atmosphere of impunity - an
atmosphere that sends a message - that if you are in the
good books of the rat, no action will be taken against
Time to put a stop to this loud
silence of State House against sexual violence against
women and girls.
What is now urgently needed is a
proclamation, a public condemnation of sexual violence
against women and girls from State House in Freetown.
Let us see a concrete example as we find on the web
pages of the White House where the occupant of that
office one President Barack Obama
History Month 2016.
"Throughout history, women have driven humanity forward
on the path to a more equal and just society,
contributing in innumerable ways to our character and
progress as a people. In the face of discrimination and
undue hardship, they have never given up on the promise
of America: that with hard work and determination,
nothing is out of reach.
During Women's History Month,
we remember the trailblazers of the past, including the
women who are not recorded in our history books, and we honor their legacies by carrying forward the valuable
lessons learned from the powerful examples they set.
Though we have made great progress toward achieving
gender equality, work remains to be done.
earn, on average, less for every dollar made by men,
which is why I continue to call on the Congress to pass
the Paycheck Fairness Act -- a sensible step to provide
women with basic tools to fight pay discrimination.
Meanwhile, my Administration has taken steps to support
working families by fighting for paid leave for all
Americans, providing women with more small business
loans and opportunities, and addressing the challenges
still faced by women and girls of color, who
consistently face wider opportunity gaps and structural
barriers -- including greater discrepancies in pay. And
although the majority of our Nation's college and
graduate students are women, they are still
underrepresented in science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics, which is why we are encouraging more
women and girls to pursue careers in these fields."
Now here's a reminder for the
government, ruling party, the ineffective, dormant and
compromised opposition parties and all the good people
of Sierra Leone - please take heed of
this message. "A rape is not a romp – It is time to end the titillating
portrayal of sexual violence"