The Human Rights Defenders Network Sierra Leone yesterday called on the government to step up efforts in ensuring that women and girls are protected from rape and sexual violence in the country.
According to the network's Executive Secretary, Alphonso Gbanie, despite the amendments on the Sexual Offences Act to include life imprisonment for rape, very little has been achieved in that direction.
"We are not seeing much being done by the government to protect women and girls from rape and sexual violence. Rape and sexual violence against women and girls is on the increase despite efforts by government to ensure that justice is meted against perpetrators," he said.
He disclosed that statistical data between January to October 2019 suggests that a total of 67 adult survivors and 3,105 child survivors on rape and sexual violence.
He called on government to improve on protection mechanisms for women and girls from rape and sexual violence and support the criminal justice system, including the "Hands off Our Girls" Campaign.
He cited a case of rape which was reported in February 2019 to the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police, but expressed dismay that since the conclusion of the investigation and case file with CR No. 845/2019 submitted to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, nothing has been done.
"We consider the action of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice office as undue advantage on the police and thus put them in public discontent and mistrust," he said.
Gbanie noted that survivors and family of victims of rape and sexual violence continue to wait in vain and that the police are sometimes blamed for refusing to send their matter to court in order to access justice.
He urged for the immediate prosecution of the alleged rape matter involving a young girl against Paramount Chief Jonathan K. Tucker of Gbap Nongobabulum Chiefdom in the Moyamba district.