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16 Days of Activism: HRCSL engages Kroo Bay Community on Sexual Offences Act

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

In commemoration of the sixteen (16) Days of Activism, the Human Right Commission of Sierra Leone yesterday engaged residents of Kroo Bay Community on the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 (as amended in 2019).

The theme for the sixteen days of activism which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2020 is “Stand up! Support, and end violence against women and girls.”

According to the Chairperson of the country’s National human rights body, Patricia Narsu Ndanema, the commission was established to protect and promote the rights of individuals, especially women and girls.

She reminded residents of the community about their various rights, citing the right to education, right to life, right to associate and right to education, among others, but noted that these rights usually go with responsibilities.

“Government for example protect your basic human rights by providing basic amenities such as health centers and schools. You have to bear in mind that you have a responsibility to protect the facilities provided by government,” she urged.

Madam Ndanema noted that the amended Sexual Offences Act of 2019 makes makes provision for a minimum sentence of 15 years for sexual offences and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

She also spoke about the distinction between rape and sexual penetration and urged residents of the community to complain issues bordering on their human rights to the commission at all times for redress. “The Commission receive complainant, enquire into complainant, and investigate. We also raise awareness on human rights, review legislations and present a State of Human Rights report to Parliament every year,” She added.

On her part, Director of Gender, Gloria Bawoh, noted that the engagement with Kroo Bay Community people was crucial to promoting human right and create a good relationship with residents.

She said even though there is a law which aims to tackle rape and other sexual offences, there is still an increase in the menace and therefore urged residents of the community to stand up and partner with the commission to curb sexual and gender base violence.

Councilor Murray Conteh described the engagement as a blessing in disguise, noting that his community was among the most deprived in the country. He expressed optimism to continue partnering with the commission to help curb the menace of rape and other sexual offences.

57 years old Kadiatu S. Kanu, revealed that she was only opportune to get knowledge about the laws on rape and other sexual offences through previous engagements with the Commission. “I look forward to learning more about the country’s laws on human rights,” she said.

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