The Director of Amnesty International, Brima Sheriff has called on the government of Sierra Leone “to outlaw the harmful practice of female genital mutilation” which according to him has caused and still continues to cause so much needless pain and suffering for the girls of Sierra Leone.
The Amnesty Country Director regretted that the child rights bill, recently passed by Parliament failed to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation.
Mr Sheriff however praised the government for passing the gender bills and described government’s passage of these bills as “taking a strong stand in support of its women and children.”
He accepted that women in Sierra Leone have been facing significant violence and discrimination throughout the country and maintained that last week’s passage of a law outlawing domestic violence and establishing the rights of women when it comes to inheritance and the registration of customary marriages is an important step forward in improving the status of women – particularly rural women – and ensuring greater protection for women and girls against violence in the home and community across sierra Leone.
The Amnesty Director maintained that the domestic violence law gives family support units in the police the necessary tools to either mediate disputes or to support women who decide to take criminal and civil action when their rights are violated.
He also added that registering customary marriages provides women with the legal right to own property and other rights in marriage, making this a great step forward for rural women in particular.
Mr Sheriff says the inheritance law ensures that throughout Sierra Leone women have access to the property they are rightfully entitled to when their husband dies, without interference from extended family members.
“The greatest challenge now will be to ensure that women know these rights, exercise them and that they are enforced,” concluded Brima Sheriff.