Sierra Leone: The Role Of Don Bosco In The Fight Against Sexual Penetration, Child Abuse

opinion

The recent case of an alleged rape of a five year old girl in Freetown by her cousin has raised brutal attention of many citizens including activists on the safety and vulnerability of young girls across Sierra Leone. There are many Non State Actors who are into advocacy on the vulnerability of women and young girls in Sierra Leone, but their commitment is a debate for another date.

Sexual penetration has been a thorn on the flesh of young girls and their parents for decades in Sierra Leone. There are many laws enacted by successive governments to curtail the menace and bring perpetrators to book, but incidences of rape are recorded across the country on a daily basis and the act has damaged the future of many young girls with lot of potentials.

Don Bosco Fambul, a local child protection and youth empowerment organization has been in the fore in tackling sexual penetration, sexual assault and providing psychosocial support on all forms of violence against young girls and youths in Sierra Leone for over a decade. The organization established a 323 toll free line for which citizens are calling to report matters of sexual abuse, penetration and other forms of cruelty against young girls.

Don Bosco's intervention in tackling sexual penetration, domestic violence and other forms of abuse is diverse and multifaceted. The organization has medical schemes that take care of sexually abused girls and take those they cannot handle to other medical facilities in Freetown for proper examination.

Don Bosco Fambul has safe shelter homes that provide protection and safe custody of victims of all forms of sexual abuse. The organization is providing shelter for sexually abused girls to reduce the level of stigmatization and to rehabilitate and counsel them for reintegration into society. Don Bosco Fambul employed trained and qualified social workers who are engaging victims of sexual penetration and other forms of abuse in providing therapy and psychosocial support for them.

The construction of a state-of-the-art therapy centre is underway at the new Don Bosco Fambul complex to provide advance therapy for rape and other domestic violence victims and the management has placed some staff in a Masters programme in psychomotricity to work in the new therapy centre.

Don Bosco Fambul is not only providing medical care and psychosocial support for abused girls, but also pursue the perpetrators by filing law suits against them in court and there are many success stories in that regard.

Don Bosco Fambul under the hospices of the Salesians has successfully rehabilitated and reunified hundreds of sexually abused girls with their families across the country. The organizations placed some of the rehabilitated girls into vocational institution for them to learn skills and others into mainstream schools to further their formal education.

Don Bosco has succeeded in changing the lives of sexually abuse victims and also help them overcome the stigmatizations ensued thereafter. There are challenges the law enforcement agencies are having in providing evidence on rape matters in Sierra Leone.

When law enforcement investigates a case of sexual violence, DNA evidence can make or break the outcome. DNA evidence has become a routine part of investigating and prosecuting all types of crimes in advance nation with the help of forensic examinations. Forensic examination is often an important tool in achieving justice for survivors of rape.

For rape and sexual assault victims to get justice and also to help the law enforcement agencies especially the Family Support Unit (FSU) of the Sierra Leone Police to ease the burden of proof in convicting accused person of sexual penetration of young girls, the Don Bosco Fambul is thinking of constructing a forensic laboratory in their new 40 acre complex at During Town, Waterloo-Tombo Highway where DNA examination could be conducted on accused persons and victims/

Forensic examination on rape increases the likelihood of identifying perpetrators and also increases the likelihood of holding perpetrators accountable because DNA evidence carries weight in court. Forensic examination will also prevent future sexual assault from occurring.

Don Bosco Fambul is also working closely with the Family Support Unit (FSU) in monitoring all FSUs across the country to get first hand information on the number of rape and sexual assault cases recorded every month.

When the current government assumed power, President Julius Maada Bio proclaimed a State of Emergency on rape and enacts a bill that pronounces life imprisonment on convicted perpetrators, but there seems to be an increase in the act since the proclamation was made in 2019. Don Bosco is planning to undertake a sensitization campaign on the new amended sexual offences Act of 2020 to educate the people on the implications of committing a sexual offence and the desire or urge of the parents of the victim to strike compromise with the perpetrator.

There are many young girls suffering in silence because they don't have people to speak on their behalf and also those to inform the requisite authorities about their plight. Don Bosco has an outreach programme where social workers and other staff are traversing the length breadth of Sierra Leone in a move geared towards unearthing the people suffering in silence.

Don Bosco has succeeded in changing the stories of many vulnerable girls unearth in many of their outreach programmes across the country. Don Bosco has succeeded in transforming the lives of hundreds of girls and young adult girls who were in situations of prostitutions.

When it comes to child protection, fighting sexual penetration, and abuse of whatever kind, Don Bosco is on top of situation. Don Bosco Fambul has relocated all beneficiaries to their new home at During town.

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