Sierra Leone declares sexual assault emergency after number of rape reports double

President makes penetration of minors punishable by life imprisonment

A five-year-old girl poses with her doll as she sits in her wheelchair one year after a sexual assault her family says left her paralysed
A five-year-old girl poses with her doll as she sits in her wheelchair one year after a sexual assault her family says left her paralysed

Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency on rape and sexual assault after a surge in recorded cases.

President Julius Maada Bio said each month hundreds of cases of rape and sexual assault are being reported against women, girls and babies.

He said fatalities included three-month-olds and that 70 per cent of survivors are under 15.

More than 8,500 cases were recorded last year, according to police statistics, just over double the number recorded in 2017.

President Bio said he wanted to bring awareness to the issue since thousands of cases are unreported because of a culture of silence or indifference in the west African nation.

The president said he had now made sexual penetration of minors punishable by life imprisonment.

The current law carries a maximum penalty of 15 years, and very few cases have been prosecuted.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in