(c) Strategic Communications Unit,
Ministry of Information and Communications
His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio, on Thursday 9th July, 2020 officially launched nationwide One Stop Centers via virtual link.
The One Stop Centers are facilities where Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) victims can report to seek medical care, psycho-social counselling, legal aid, confidentiality and all other necessary support in that direction.
Information and Communications Minister Mohamed Rahman Swaray who chaired the virtual event reiterated President Bio’s unyielding commitment towards curbing and preventing rape and other forms of Sexual and Gender Based Violence which undermines women’s empowerment.
According to the Minister, the President has taken bold and audacious steps to deal with the aforementioned menace by declaring a State of Emergency on Rape and later reviewing and strengthening the Sexual Offences Act backed by First Lady Fatima Bio’s Hands of Our Girls national campaign.
“President Bio is demonstrating body and soul commitment to all issues relating to gender; in that regard he has dedicated an exclusive Ministry to Gender and Children’s Affairs as a demonstration of his unrelenting commitment to protect, defend and empower women and girls.”
The Executive Director of UN Women, Madam Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, said she was exceedingly happy to be a part of the auspicious occasion – launching of One Stop Centers across Sierra Leone.
She described the One Stop Centers as a clear indication that President Bio is poised to deal with Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the country.
She highlighted the ills of rape including stigmatization, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, among others, and assured the President of UN Women’s unrelenting support to improving the conditions of women and girls in Sierra Leone.
The Deputy Executive Director of UNFPA recognized and appreciated all the steps taken by President Bio to address and prevent rape, adding that his organization was delighted and proud to contribute to the establishment of One Stop Centers across the country.
He also lauded the President’s efforts towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
UN Resident Coordinator, Sunil Saigal, on his part stated that violating or perpetrating crimes against women and girls does not only constitute violating their fundamental Human Rights but also impedes their socio-economic and political development.
According to him, “establishing One Stop Centers is a cardinal step taken by the President in addressing the stigma of rape and all forms of SGBV.”
The Coordinator described men who commit rape as unreal, weak and a bunch of faceless cowards.
He singled out the significant contributions of China and Ireland to the success of the One Stop Centers in Sierra Leone and praised President Bio for the decisive steps he has taken to curb rape.
He called on all men to reject rape and maintained that the world could only be fair if all crimes against women are eradicated since they constitute more than half of the world’s population.