Muctaru's Blog

I am Muctaru Wurie from Freetown, Sierra Leone. I blog on a variety of subject from my homeland and most of my post feature well researched stories I do.


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Part I

Rape Still A Threat To Sierra Leone’s Female Population

Almost a decade after the devastating civil war in Sierra Leone, the issue of rape which was so prevalent during the war is still haunting the country. It has simply not gone away and women and girls are still prone to dangers of rape in post war Sierra Leone. The conclusion of the conflict in January 2002 did not spell an end to this crime, however. In fact, some allege that rapes are becoming more frequent in the country today.

What is Rape

According to the criminal law definition, rape is an assault by a person involving sexual intercourse with another person without that person’s consent. Outside of law, the term is often used interchangeably with sexual assault a closely related (but in most jurisdictions technically distinct) form of assault typically including rape and other forms of non-consensual sexual activity.

History of anguish in Sierra Leone

An Amnesty International, 29 June 2000 Report on Sierra Leone says abduction, rape and sexual slavery of girls and women were among the most abhorrent and distressing features of the nine-year internal armed conflict in Sierra Leone. The report also blames rape and other forms of sexual violence committed by government officials or by armed opposition groups are acts of torture. Sadly, the report stated that almost all the thousands of girls and women who were abducted by rebel forces had been raped and forced into sexual slavery and some of them are still living not only with that nightmare but with children borne out of their devastating experience in the hands of rebels and other armed factions.

Rape statistics

According to RAINN Centre, an anti-sexual assault body based in Washington, around the world at least 1 in 3 women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Most often the abuser is a member of her own family. It’s also said in its 2009 Report that 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police worldwide. According to Human Right Watch in 2009, 84% of rape victims in the world reported the use of physical force.

Reality of Rape in Sierra Leone

“Rape has steadily been on the increase since the end of the civil war, with our centre servicing hundreds of cases in the provinces as well as the western area,” says Amie Tejan-Jalloh, programme officer for the Sierra Leone Rainbow Centre, an organization that provides help and treatment for rape victims. This organisation, which operates in the capital, Freetown, and in eastern Sierra Leone, has been assisting victims of sexual assault for the past eight years. It provides them with medical treatment and counselling, as well as free legal assistance in the event that the victim or their family chooses to take the case to court.

Rape shock and effect

“It is disheartening,” Tejan-Jalloh adds. “We recently serviced 198 victims in Kenema district in the east and in Freetown. Our youngest client is three-and-a-half-months old,” said a seemingly sad Tejan-Jalloh.

The rainbow centre says that victims of rape can be severely traumatized by the assault and may have difficulty functioning as well as they had been used to prior to the assault, with disruption of concentration, sleeping patterns and eating habits, for example. They may feel jumpy or be on edge. After being raped, it is common for the victim to experience acute stress disorder, including symptoms similar to those of posttraumatic stress disorder, such as intense, sometimes unpredictable, emotions, and they may find it hard to deal with their memories of the event. In the months immediately following the assault, these problems may be severe and very upsetting and may prevent the victim from revealing their ordeal to friends or family, or seeking police or medical assistance. Additional symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder include depersonalization or dissociation (feeling numb and detached, like being in a daze or a dream, or feeling that the world is strange and unreal).

Unity for a nationwide approach

The Rainbow Centre has joined forces with FSUs and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and other human rights organisations to help women affected by rape and other forms of violence. To date, it has trained hundreds of school guidance counsellors in Sierra Leone. The centre has, in addition, provided clinical training for officials of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

Tougher approach

Addressing the TRAINING ON CHILD RIGHTS AND ISSUES ON GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE AGAINST ADOLESECENT GIRLS in Makeni, Ibrahim Kamara, Regional Desk Officer, Gender and Children’s Affairs from the Ministry of Welfare said the social welfare ministry is also lobbying for tougher laws as far as children are concerned. He said its child welfare department is currently working with the Law Reform Commission on ways of strengthening legislation concerning children’s rights so they can prevent rape and sexual abuse that is currently ongoing with impunity across most part of the country.

Hope for speedy justice

On his part, Sierra Leone’s former chief justice, Abdulai Timbo, has called for more consistent sentences to be handed down to those found guilty of rape. In addition, he has highlighted the need to expedite rape trails. Recently, the United Nations Development Programme in Sierra Leone agreed to provide funding for 13 extra magistrates as well as transportation in an effort to have alleged rapists tried more quickly.


Written by Muctaru Wurie

October 1, 2010 at 10:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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