The Office Of The First Lady, in collaboration with The Ministry of Gender and social welfare staged a peaceful protest against sexual violence on Sat 15th Dec. in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This is the first time in Africa, that we have First Ladies coming together to support their counterpart by participating in a peaceful protest. The procession started at the Supreme Court Building at Cotton tree, to Aberdeen Junction 8km away. The Protest is part of the program to Launch the First Lady’s 2019 – 2022 strategic plan themed: “Hands Off Our Girls”.
Usually, these kind protests aimed at empowering women and dealing with social issues, are initiated and carried out by non-governmental organisations. Our unconventional First Lady is taking the lead on advocating for women and children because she is passionate about issues concerning them.
Before the commencement of the protest, The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Hon . Baindu Dassama , read the position paper she submitted to the Minister of Justice at the front of the supreme court building. Hon. Dassama is not happy about the state of affairs concerning violence against women, this she said should be carefully examined and justice should prevail. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice; Hon. Priscilla Schwartz, responding to the document, made it clear, the issue will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The First Lady did not pull punches. She stated that rape will not be tolerated. She was down-to-earth , as she addressed the over 600 persons present at the submission of the Position document .
The peaceful protest started as The First Ladies from Chad, Gambia and Niger joined. The First Ladies were very energetic and made it clear that violence against women will not be tolerated in the continent. The protest started with about 1 thousand protesters at cotton tree, as at the time the procession got to Congo cross, there were over two thousand protesters.
What made the demonstration unique, was the support by the Police, the Military, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, they all joined the peaceful protest. Lawyers came to show support by participating in the protest, though the Lawyers did not have the “Hands off our Girls “ T-shirts, they joined the demonstration in their suites.
H. E. Fatima Maada Bio, believes this protest is an important avenue to bring about the much desired change in the society. Awareness created by the peaceful protest will put the spotlight on organisations meant to protect our women, and create a sense of accountability.