By Amin Kef Sesay
Coronavirus has added stress to many of our lives. We have overcome difficult times before and we will get through this too. Families and community leaders, especially men, have a responsibility to prevent child marriage and protect girls and their future to go to school, pursue a career, and choose when to have a family.
Fathers and mothers, women and men have a very important role in encouraging girls to focus on their dreams and goals, and talking with boys and girls about how teenage pregnancy can be harmful and make life more difficult, especially for the young mother, her family, and the child.
Supporting girls to achieve their dreams and thrive benefits communities and encourages other girls and boys, women and men to do the same.
Men and boys can lead by example and publicly supporting women and girls, listening to them and treating them with respect, and stepping in to prevent or stop violence by other men and boys.
Where can survivors of rape or domestic violence go for help?
Survivors of rape or domestic violence can go to a One Stop Center. One Stop Centers provide a range of services under one roof. Each Center provides medical, psychosocial counselling and legal aid for survivors in an environment that is confidential, private, safe, respectful, and without judgment.
All services at the One Stop Centers are free. You can go to a One Stop Center at any time. Services are provided all hours of the day.
You do not need to go to the police station to report. The One Stop Center staff includes a Family Support Unit (FSU) officer who will take a report from you while you are at the One Stop Center.
The One Stop Centers are currently located at Port Loko Government Hospital, Moyamba Government Hospital, Pujehun Government Hospital, Kabala Government Hospital, Kailahun Government Hospital, and King Harmon Road Government Hospital (Freetown).
If you are in Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Kono, or Freetown (PCMH), please contact Rainbo Centers for medical and psychosocial services. Call 116 Rape hotline for help locating a center.
If you are the survivor of an attempted rape, you may report at the One Stop Center or local Family Support Unit (FSU). Call 116 for help. If you see or learn of any act of sexual violence happening in your community, you must SPEAK out to help the survivor and punish the perpetrator.
EVERYONE has the right to say NO to sex!
Any sexual contact between two people must be fully and freely agreed by those two people, on EVERY occasion. Any forced sexual act where one person does not want it, is violence and a crime.
Report ALL cases of sexual violence to the nearest Family Support Unit (FSU) or hospital, or call the 116 Rape hotline for free on Orange, Africell or Q-cell at any time of the day.
You can also report to your local authorities including the Child Welfare Committee or religious leaders. Having sex with a child under 18 years is an abuse and an offence against the State!