Sierra Leone: HRCSL Undertakes Community Engagement On Harmful Traditional Practices

Acting on a report from a member of the Ken District Human Rights Committee of increase in underage initiation of girls into the female secret society (Bondo), the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) Eastern Region team headed by its Deputy Director Sylvester Sidi Kallon on Saturday 11th January conducted a community engagement in Lango Town and its environs in Kenema.

Community stakeholders (chiefs, youth leaders, religious leaders, teachers, health workers and the police partnership Board) and some of the Soweis engaged in the practice were engaged in this community human rights education.

The work of the commission was explained to them followed by key messages like, parents and the communities should not allow every person below the age of 18 to be initiated into secret societies, the girl child should be encouraged to go to school and not engage in sexual activities and bondo societies, Parents and communities must take leadership in protecting children from harm and abuse, communities to report all sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) related matters to the Family Support Unit of the SLP or other appropriate institutions/organizations and

Parents and community authorities to keep away from compromise of all SGBV related matters.

The community stakeholders were also engaged on the amended Sexual Offences Act, the Child Right Act and the 3 Gender Justice Laws. They were encouraged to report all human rights complaints to the HRCSL office at 67 Blama Road in Kenema which will be looked into speedily.

Community authorities appreciated the engagement and referred to it as timely and educative. The Local Policing Partnership focal person, Amara Koroma appealed to HRCSL to increase its community education as a way of awareness raising on Rights and Responsibilities especially in hard to reach communities.

The traditional women also thanked HRCSL for the education on the gender justice laws, the amended sexual offences Act, the child rights act that protects women and girls and promised to uphold them.

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