WE MUST AND SHOULD END RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN OUR LIFETIME

President of the Republic of Sierra Leone continues to lead an all-out war against rape and sexual violence in Sierra Leone in particular and the African continent at large.

At the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights and hosted by Purposeful Sierra Leone and Office of the First Lady in Freetown, President Dr. Julius Maada Bio renewed his government’s commitment to the fight and declared that “we must and should end rape and all forms of sexual violence in our lifetime”.

After higlighting major strides being taken by the government to preserve the rights of women and children since he was elected in 2018, President Bio proudly announced that Sierra Leone is leading by example to tackle sexual violence and destabilise structural inequalities that limits the progress of women.

The Sierra Leone President commits his government’s full support to the continent’s collective vision to achieve a promise of a better tomorrow.

He argued that one of the major catalysts to achieve the SDGs is to create the required space and empower women.

The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, who has championed most of the women’s rights campaigns of the Government of Sierra Leone, also delivered an electrifying speech at the closing day of the largest international civil society led conference on the shores of Sierra Leone since 1980.

At the conference that attracted over 900 delegates from 41 countries, Dr. Fatima Bio catalogued the barrage of interventions her Office has led to ensure the protection of women and girls with the latest being the construction of an Ultra Modern Hospital edifice at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown.

She disclosed that a completed 500 beds hospital with a modern admistrative block and a one-stop center of excellence for rape victims costing 5 million dollars would soon be handed over to the Government of Sierra Leone.

“This multi-million dollar project that was initiated and being implemented by my Office has attracted funding from friends and institutions within and outside of Sierra Leone,” she disclosed, while clarifying that the project is not being funded by the Government of Sierra Leone.

The Center of Excellence, she continued, will contain a dedicated ‘social room’ that will host doctors, police, lawyers, Rainbow Center staff and other child protection personnel to ensure a safe space where rape victims can only narrate their ordeals once for the attention of all stakeholders to avoid being victimised twice.

According to Mrs. Bio, the Centre of Excellence would be named after President Bio as the “Julius Maada Bio Excellence Centre.”

“In just 18 months, I am proud and happy to report today that one of the biggest ultra modern hospitals in the continent is near completion,” Dr. Bio announced.

As usual of her, the First Lady used the gathering to acknowledge and appreciate the selfless support of her husband towards the fight for women’s rights and health.

She also extended her heartfelt appreciation to the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, the Minister of Gender from The Gambia and to all delegates that attended the conference.

The Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E Jewel Cianeh Taylor expressed elation to be in Sierra Leone to attend the conference on the invitation of First Lady Dr. Fatima Bio.

She expressed how impressed she was with the work, attitude and dedication of President Bio towards women’s issues in Sierra Leone.

She encouraged the women of Sierra Leone and every other stakeholder to stand with President Bio to ensure that women suffer in silence no more.

She described President Bio as a “He-For-She Champion” while saluting her bravery and exceptional leadership.

The Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, Dr Rasha Kelej expressed her appreciation to all doctors and nurses who attended the conference.

She recalled her first meeting with Mrs. Bio in 2018 in Senegal, where the Sierra Leone First Lady made a passionate case and appeal for the foundation to lend a hand in training healthcare providers in Sierra Leone so they can match up to international standards.

She disclosed how that special request led to the provision of 43 scholarships in 21 health specialities for Sierra Leonean health workers.

Strategic Communications Division

Office of The First Lady

Info@officeofthefirstlady.gov.sl

+232 303 68273

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