Campaign for Human Rights and Development Sierra Leone (CHRDSL) has expressed grave concern over the low conviction rates of sexual and gender-based violence offences in the country.
According to the organisation’s Chief Executive, Abdul M. Fatoma, violence of any kind -physical, sexual, psychological or verbal will never be justified and that perpetrators must face the full rigours of the laws.
“We think it is utterly absurd and has promoted violence against women and children and prevented many Sierra Leoneans from accessing justice for far too long. It is time for Sierra Leone Government and other authorities concern to give this issue the importance it deserves,” he said.
He stated that his organisation was of the view that child and women sensitive special protection measures, such as multi-sectoral early detection and prevention and response interventions were totally lacking in the country.
He added that laws and policies addressing gender-based violence and violence against children have been enacted in Sierra Leone and several countries and are already showing results by ensuring that there is an age appropriate justice system and response when dealing with the most vulnerable children.
Mr. Fatoma disclosed that according to a recent research conducted by CHRDSL, over 30,000 women and girls across Sierra Leone have experienced rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, human trafficking, or other forms of violence within the last 60 months
“Only a small proportion of violence against women is reported. Many perpetrators have and will be getting away with it because the government’s system of handling rape cases and other violence against women and young girls is grossly ineffective. According to available records at the Sierra Leone Police Family Support Unit (FSU), 8, 043 sexual and domestic violence offences were recorded by the Police in Sierra Leone in 2015, but only 1,438 of those cases were charged to court with 6605 kept in view,” he said.