Following the heinous and dastardly act carried out against little Khadija, members of Sierra Leone’s entertainment industry have come together to add their voices against rape and sexual penetration against minors in the country.
Monday this week saw major artists joining hands with other women’s advocacy groups to storm the streets of Freetown in protest against the alleged rape and subsequent death of five-year-old Khadija that has attracted nationwide condemnation.
It is reported that the deceased was allegedly raped by a male relative in her family and died shortly after the forceful penetration.
A popular Sierra Leonean movie star simply known as Eta was among protesters who converged on the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice demanding justice for the unfortunate girl. She is one of those that Salone Jamboree caught up with and had a chat on why the protest, and she had this to say: “We have taken to the streets of Freetown to protest and call for justice for Khadija and many other Khadijas whose abuse have gone silent over the years.”
Eta postulated that it was not just about singing against sexual and gender-based violence but to see actions being taken against perpetrators. “The entertainment industry is tired of doing advocacy songs on rape; we are tired of engaging communities on the issue when we know perpetrators are not getting the penalty that they deserve.”
Fantacee Wiz Kamara in an update on her Facebook page referred to the protest as a success as she wrote: “Despite the challenges earlier today we ended up having a peaceful and fruitful protest & we had a fruitful meeting with the Attorney General, IG & DIG. Thank you for coming out once again; together we’ll make the change we want to see.”
Others who could not make it to the city centre took to social media to voice their anger, joining the call for speedy Justice 4 Khadija. Among them was YungSal, who tweeted: “It hurts deeply to imagine the pain and how terrified that little girl was before her demise. We all shouldn’t just post about it and relax. It’s time to act up! Expose every act of sexual violence as it permeates our society.”
The issue of rape against young girls is no new phenomenon in Sierra Leone, a development that President Bio’s New Direction government vowed to tackle when he assumed office in 2018. The president in 2019 was forced to declare a state of emergency against rape when reports reached him of a 5-year- old girl being raped and left paralyzed from the waist down. Later, a call in the Houses of Parliament saw the strengthening of the Sexual Offences Act of 2012 to include life imprisonment for raping minors with a promise to set up a Special Unit in the Police for Sexual Violence-related offences.
Also, as alarmed as she was by the perpetual reports of rape of minors, the First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio also launched regional advocacy against rape and Gender-Based Violence dubbed ‘Hands off Our Girls.’ With all this, the issue of rape seems unabated; and each year thousands of cases are recorded by the Rainbow Initiative.
For 2019, Rainbow recorded over four thousand cases; and in 2018, the Initiative reported that 3,137 sexual abuse cases were reported in all of their five (5) centres across the country.
By: Mohamed Gandoh Jallohby