President Julius Maada Bio Reiterates Government’s Commitment to Fighting Rape and Sexual Violence against Women and Girls in Sierra Leone

Bonthe Island, Southern Province, Thursday 26 December 2019 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has reiterated his government’s commitment to the fight against rape, teenage pregnancy and all forms of sexual violence against women and girls in the country.

Delivering his keynote address at the official launch of the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign in Bonthe Island, President Bio said that women constituted the majority of the country’s population, adding that it was, therefore, the moral imperative of the government to protect them from anything that would undermine their security, growth, progress.

He said that women, especially the girl child, needed special care and attention to enable them to actualise their fullest potentials. He emphasised that if given the opportunity the girl child could do better like their male counterparts. He noted that rape was a very big crime, for which the government had instituted strong laws to punish perpetrators.

“We all have to make the conscious effort to allow our kids to get the right education. Girls should be encouraged to get quality education and not be forced into early marriage, which will destroy their future. When women are educated they will help to develop the nation, so we must allow them to actualise their dreams,” he said.

First Lady, Her Excellency Madam Fatima Maada Bio, said that the rate of teenage pregnancy in the district was not encouraging, noting that it needed a collective effort by all relevant stakeholders to combat the menace. She encouraged religious leaders to disseminate the campaign message in their places of worship, as a way of raising the needed awareness about the effects of rape and early marriage.

She commended the free quality education of the government, saying that that was an initiative meant to provide a better future for the kids. She also encouraged girls to focus on their schoolwork in order to become better citizens in their various communities.

Paramount Chief, Alhaji Alie Badara Sheriff of Jong Chiefdom, said that they were pleased with the First Lady for championing the campaign to protect women and girls in the country. He encouraged his colleague chiefs to take the lead by serving as ambassadors to disseminate the message to their subjects.

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