By Amin Kef Sesay
With tough laws to deal with rape and sexual penetration enacted by the Government, coupled with the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign mounted by the First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio and the declaration of an Emergency against Rape by President Bio, this menace has continued unabated.
It could be recalled that last year, His Excellency President Maada Bio joined other First Ladies across Africa to Launch the Hands Off Our Girls campaign, the brain child of his wife, Madam Fatima Bio, at the Bintumani Conference hall, which was followed by a nationwide campaign by the First Gentleman and Lady of this country. During their campaign tour across the country, they raised awareness over the impact of such actions by unscrupulous men and the laws that have been enacted to deal with such cases. Elders and Chiefs were all admonished not to tolerate any out of court settlement or any form of compromise on such cases.
In ensuring the speedy trial of such cases, the Judiciary constitute a separate court to deal with such offenders. Unfortunately, this menace does not seem to go away. Since then, cases of rape have rather sky rocketed than reduce. The recent report by the Sierra Leone Police on cases of rape recorded by the Family Support Unit (FSU), showed a marked increase from 2017. According to the report, there has been constant increase in cases of rape annually since 2017. In 2019, the FSU recorded 3,252 rape cases.
It could be recalled that declaration of the State of Emergency on Rape was as a result of a five year old girl who was raped and is permanently handicapped for life. President Bio’s reaction was that such men should not join the free world and should spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Today, the most recent case involves another five year old girl who was raped and autopsy report show that she was physically assaulted by her assailant and died from the incident.
According to the autopsy report, the little innocent child had a fractured Cervical Vertebrae, Spinal Cord Injury, Anal Dilation, Manual Strangulation etc. With the above discovery from the autopsy, the victim could not have survived.
This dastardly act has received wide condemnation from women’s groups, CSO Activists and campaigners for women’s rights, and most of all in the Mother of the Nation, Madam Fatima Bio, who has declared battle between the rapist and all women organisations, including her office and the Presidency. This act is being seen by many as a complete disregard for life and an affront to the stand of the government and people of Sierra Leone.
As posts on social media intimated that Choithram Hospital refused to treat the child when she was taken there, this medium conducted an in-depth investigation into the allegation. In the company of the Police from the Mountain Division, the Management of Choithram showed video footage of the actions of their Doctors when the victim was brought there.
The footage showed the Doctors doing examination on the victim, during which they discovered that she was already dead when brought to the facility. After several examinations (3 times), the Family members were told to call 117 or take the victim to Connaught Hospital, who have the facility to determine cause of death (i.e. Post Mortem Examination of the victim). A press release issued by the Choithram hospital says that the child was already dead on arrival and they could do nothing to bring her life back.
Sierra Leoneans are calling on the government to take the necessary action to see that the perpetrator faces justice and give closure to the family. Whilst his guilt will not bring back the child, but serious action, by way of punishment for this action will send the signal that all cases of rape will face the same fate.
Meanwhile, our investigation has further revealed that the alleged perpetrator and accomplice have been arrested and are helping the police in their investigations. Enough is Enough.