๐‡๐š๐ง๐๐ฌ ๐Ž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ ๐Ž๐ฎ๐ซ ๐†๐ข๐ซ๐ฅ๐ฌ ๐“๐ฎ๐ซ๐ง๐ฌ ๐…๐ข๐ฏ๐ž: ๐“๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐š๐ง๐๐ฌ ๐Œ๐š๐ซ๐œ๐ก ๐š๐ง๐ ๐‚๐ž๐ฅ๐ž๐›๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐š ๐Œ๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ ๐‚๐ก๐š๐ง๐ ๐ž.

Freetown, December 28th, 2023:

In a vibrant display of solidarity and progress, thousands of Sierra Leoneans have converged in Freetown today to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the impactful “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign.

Under the unifying theme “Our Girls, Our Pride, Our Boys, Our Allies, We are Winning, No Excuse for Abuse,” the march from National Stadium to Aberdeen Beach roared a collective demand for change. Witnessing a wide range of individuals parade from the National Stadium to Aberdeen Beach with a single messageโ€”zero tolerance for gender-based violenceโ€”was as refreshing as it was telling.

The diverse gathering was a testament to the campaign’s reach, stretching from students and women’s groups to public officials, youth organizations, bike riders, motor dealers, kekeh riders, and even celebrities. Their unwavering messageโ€”zero tolerance for gender-based violenceโ€”reverberated through the streets, painted in the campaign’s colors of white and red.

The vibrant energy of the march filled the streets as participants, adorned in white and red, the campaign’s signature colors, sang, danced, and chanted slogans demanding an end to violence against women and girls.

Placards bearing powerful messages like “Empowered Girls,” โ€œStrong Nation,” and “Silence No More” served as stark reminders of the campaign’s crucial role in breaking the silence surrounding this pervasive issue.

The culminating beach fiesta at the Kallon Car Park served as the climax of the occasion. This was a celebration of both progress and an unwavering commitment to ending the shame of rape and sexual exploitation in society. Renowned artists entertained, powerful survivor testimonials resonated, and First Lady Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, the campaign’s driving force, addressed a throng of people from all walks of life.

Acknowledging the remaining challenges, she declared, “Five years ago, we broke the silence. Today, we stand proud of lives impacted, laws strengthened, and minds changed. But our journey continues. Hand in hand, we march until every girl walks free from fear.”

As the “Beach Fiesta” concluded, the message resonated loud and clear: “Hands Off Our Girls” is not just a campaign; it is a movement, a community, and a promise for a future free from violence and discrimination. The thousands who turned out today proved that the fight for equality continues, fueled by unwavering determination and the collective belief that change is possible.

…………………….

Strategic Communications Division,

Office of the First Lady,

Republic of Sierra Leone.

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