Sierra Leone: New Attention Given to Violence Against Women
Friday, November 8, 2013 12:55 PM

After Deputy Education Minister Mahmoud Tarawally was charged with raping a 24-year-old university student, sexual violence prevalence rates have gained increased attention in Sierra Leone.  More than 6,500 incidents of gender-based violence have been reported during the first eight months of 2013. This is close to the total number of reports from 2012.

So far, only six percent of these cases have ended in conviction. Even though there is a Family Support Unit that is supposed to investigate sexual violence cases, this police task force runs into problems such as poor funding and staffing. Victims also face many roadblocks to reporting, including stigma from their community, expensive fees, and inaccessibility of police stations and courthouses for rural women.

Some improvements have been made in handling gender-based crimes. For example, Saturday courts have been created to hear  gender-based crimes, and trainings have helped police build the skills to better address gender violence reports. Additionally, while only about 400 perpetrators were convicted in the first eight months of 2013, this is an improvement over the 152 convictions in 2012.
Compiled from: Fighting Gender-Based Violence in Sierra Leone, IRIN, (Nov. 6, 2013).