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SLP, NEMS & Aberdeen Centre Sign MOU

The Sierra Leone Police has on Wednesday, July 29th 2020, signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Emergency Medical Services and Aberdeen Women Centre at the Office of the First Lady to combat gender-based violence in Sierra Leone.

The event demonstrates the commitment of the Sierra Leone Police in creating a synergy between the two medical service providers that deal directly with rape and gender-based violence cases in the country. Coordination between the different organisations makes service delivery more effective. 

Speaking at the official signing ceremony, the Country representative for the Aberdeen Women Center, Dr Kofi King, pledged their continued support to the Sierra Leone Police, as they officially sign a partnership, which is something they have done with Rainbo, LAWYERS and a few other organizations in ensuring that survivors of rape and gender-based violence thrive in a safe environment. 

Dr King also said their doctors will not only write reports about rape incidents, but they will also give evidence in court. Doctor’s report will support the investigation of the police that will lead to a conviction. This is important because before now, Sierra Leone only had one doctor that gave evidence in court. Dr Kofi said they are very happy to formalise the partnership they have with the police. 

Making a statement on behalf of the National Emergency Medical Services, Francesco Venturi registered their support to provide free 24/7 ambulance services to all reported cases of rape and Gender-Based Violence in all 16 districts nationwide. They are ready to commit the 81 ambulances they have in different districts to officially transport victims of rape. This agreement will make it official for victims of rape to call 112, and be attended to. 

The Inspector-General of the Sierra Leone Police, Ambrose Sovula, commended the effort of the office of the First Lady since the launch of the Hands Off Our Girls, as Madam First Lady has been proactive in helping the police in identifying the fundamental challenges the institution faced and together work on rectifying these challenges, to ensure swift and accurate prosecution of all rape, sexual penetration and Gender-Based Violence cases. 

The IG made it clear that rape is now considered a security issue; it also needs to be dealt with as a national emergency. The IG said the Police had inadequacies, but they are implementing policies to curb them. The signing of this MOU with these partners will make the Police more effective and they will deliver more results.  

Giving a vote of thanks, the First Lady, Madam Fatima Maada Bio, thanked all stakeholders for the partnership, as it means a lot to her office and the Hands Off Our Girls campaign which is geared towards protecting the girls. First Lady said she has visited the Aberdeen Women centre severally to meet with rape survivors, and this strengthens her resolve to deal with the rape scourge.

The HOOG campaign has led to an increase in reporting rape cases, and First Lady Fatima Bio is ready to fight to protect our children. The establishment of the sexual offences model court sends a strong message, that the government is serious; there will be no sacred cows, as H.E. Dr Julius Maada Bio, President of the republic, champions the fight against rape. We must win this fight as we empower the Family Support Unit.

Madam Fatima Maada Bio made a public appeal to all perpetrators of rape to desist for such act, as it destroys the life, dignity and future of a child or woman while establishing an open challenge to bring them to book. She advised human rights activists to also fight for the rights of the survivors. She said mothers should not compromise when it comes to reporting rape cases. She touched on “voodoo” based rape, where Native doctors (Voodoo priests) that the solution to the problem they face is in raping a virgin misinform some persons. This form of rape is usually not discussed but an unfortunate part of our social reality. 

The program was climaxed by the official signing of the Memorandum of understanding between the Sierra Leone Police, Aberdeen Women Centre and the National Emergency Medical Services.

Credit: Strategic Communications Division, Office of the First Lady

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