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Reading: Failed / Attempted Coup: there is still the 16 Days of Activism
Reading: Failed / Attempted Coup: there is still the 16 Days of Activism

Failed / Attempted Coup: there is still the 16 Days of Activism

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By admin 5 Min Read
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Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai + Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI)

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is a critical international campaign that runs annually from November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10th, International Human Rights Day. The campaign strives to raise awareness and catalyze action to end various forms of violence against women and girls, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

In recent years, the global community has increasingly recognized the importance of addressing SGBV, which encompasses a range of human rights violations rooted in gender inequality, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and harmful traditional practices. It is heartening to see the continued dedication to this cause despite the distractions and upheavals that may capture public attention.

An astute observation about the impact of recent events on the focus of the 16 Days of Activism is crucial. While it’s essential to ensure the security and stability of the state, since the failed or attempted coup, we must not lose sight of the pervasive issue of SGBV and the long-term implications it has on individuals, families, and societies as a whole. By highlighting the intersection of security concerns and gender-based violence, we can work toward a comprehensive approach that addresses both immediate safety and the underlying social dynamics that perpetuate violence against women.

The 16 days serve as an opportunity to challenge stereotypes and entrenched attitudes within communities, shedding light on the prevalence of SGBV and the often-overlooked forms of abuse suffered by men and boys. It’s a time to break the silence, encourage survivors to speak out and foster an environment where reporting SGBV is met with support and effective action.

Insights into the dynamics of SGBV in Sierra Leone are particularly thought-provoking. The fact that the majority of such violence is perpetrated by individuals known and trusted by the victims, coupled with the reluctance of educated and influential members of society to pursue justice, underscores the systemic challenges that need to be addressed. Furthermore, the disparities in how offenders are treated based on their socioeconomic status highlight the urgent need for a fair and equitable justice system that upholds the rights of all individuals, regardless of their background or financial means.

Justice should not be exclusive to the poor; it must also extend to the rich. Only through such equality can we hope to minimize sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Affluent and the less privileged should be treated impartially, and due process should be rigorously upheld. In Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and its Family Support Unit must recognize that crimes should be pursued, not negotiated. The practice of dealing with crimes only serves to perpetuate their prevalence. Ensuring victim and witness protection is pivotal for effective prosecution.

Drawing from my experience working in a medicolegal capacity in Somalia and Somaliland, I have seen the emphasis placed on employing medicolegal technology to detect biological evidence, such as semen, and match it with the accused individual. This utilization of modern equipment dispels doubt and facilitates the delivery of justice for both victims and the accused. Sierra Leone must invest in similar equipment to strengthen its investigative capabilities.

While organizations such as the Rainbow Center are doing commendable work, they require substantial funding and access to sophisticated machinery to bolster their efforts. By investing in advanced technology and providing adequate resources, these organizations can significantly enhance their capacity to support survivors of SGBV and contribute to the pursuit of justice.

In essence, the fight against SGBV demands a multi-faceted approach that encompasses legal reforms, community engagement, and a fundamental shift in societal attitudes. It requires not only the enactment of robust laws and stringent penalties but also a concerted effort to change cultural norms and attitudes that perpetuate violence and discrimination. Only through the collective commitment of individuals, communities, and governments can we hope to create a world free from gender-based violence, where everyone can live with dignity, safety, and equality.

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