President Julius Maada Bio says Government supports the empowerment and promotion of women and girls rights and protects them from all forms of violence perpetrated by men and boys. He was speaking at this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day in Kambia, on the theme, “Men and Boys are standing in support of women and girls rights,” on Sunday 8th March 2020. He launched the National male involvement strategy for the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. President Bio maintained that we have no place morally to talk of human rights if we cannot empower our women and young girls stressing, “It is high time we control ourselves because real men don’t rape. We should frown at it and say no to all forms of rape and violence to women and girls.” The President said men are perpetrators but some women are complicit by hiding and failing to come out to prosecute perpetrators. Honorable David Aiah Kassigbama, Chair of the Parliamentary Female Caucus Male Champion said they are committed to fight for the protection and empowerment of women and girls by making laws that are in their interest. He assured that they will ensure any bill geared toward protection and empowerment of women and girls are passed into law by the current parliament. The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal, said gender equality and empowerment of women is core in the UN agenda but noted that there are slow processes across the world in the fight and establishment of stronger institution that will ensure the elimination of all forms of violence against them. He said gender equality is no longer a women’s issue because it is not only a fundamental right but it is a human rights that requires everyone’s total commitment. The UN Resident Coordinator said the strategy will address male involvement in the campaign to fight SGBV. The President of the Sierra Leone Inter-religious council Shiek Abubakarr Conteh, said as religious leaders they condemn sexual violence. He said, “The two holy books; the Bible and the Quran, placed women as an integral part to development. He said Islam described women as partners in development and that Islam has always taught an effective moral system in the area of promotion of human welfare and condemned all sort of oppression to women and girls. Shiek Conteh said, “Shame on all men that disgrace their women in public and shame on men and boys who fail to protect the human dignity of women and girls as enshrined in the Holy books of Allah.” The Minister of Gender and Children Affairs, Manty Tarawalli, said the National male involvement strategy for the prevention of SGBV in the country is a demonstration of commitment by government to address sexual and gender based violence by amending the Sexual Offences Act 2019. She said the strategy document is one that aims to manage the response to SGBV is proactive stressing that the national document has adopted a socially transformative approach that seeks to accelerate implementation by encouraging participation of men and boys as change agents and champions of women and girls rights.
By Mohamed Kabba