With support from Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA) through a German based organization, Bread for the World- Protestant Development Service ( Brot), a non -governmental organization, Penguia Women’s Development Organization over the weekend conducted two days consultative meeting with community stakeholders on Sexual and Gender base violence. The serial meetings which were held in various communities including Makomba, Torijehun, Rogbere and Magbafti in the Western Rural District respectively, attracted hundreds of residents including the police, traditional leaders, women, the soweis, youths, head of schools and religious leaders.
The purpose of the meeting was to seek redress for victims of sexual and gender base violence and provides medical supports as well as counseling.
The Coordinator of the organization, Mrs. Princess Yambasu said the beneficiaries communities were identified on need assessment through a pilot survey as they leant that the sexual and gender base violence was common in that area. She said the Councilor for the ward was also very instrumental during the course of the survey.
She informed that the meeting targeted women who were vulnerable to gender and sexual base violence.
She expressed happiness over the turnout of participants, pointing out that the objective of the consultative meeting is to create awareness among vulnerable women who are usually marginalized by men in their communities. “Teenage pregnancy has become very rampant in the country and we are going to create a platform that will devise a solution” she underscored. She said they were ready to give support to women in the situation where they want to seek redress for court action and will also provide medical support when they are victimized.
Mrs. Princess Yambasu said several Sierra Leonean women were lagged behind but with their intervention changes are taking place. According to her, it was timely for girls to be educated as she pointed out that teenage pregnancy will aggravate poverty. She said teenage pregnancy was very outstanding in those communities.
SLADE project officer, Mohamed Zombo said the consultative meeting will help to develop the communities. According to him, Penguia Women’s Organization had told them that there were several issues to address. He informed that when they received funding, they support Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in order to implement projects in host communities. He said CBOs are based in their various communities and they know the problems of the communities. He said the CBOs are trained in order to implement projects “We give them financial and technical supports” he disclosed. He said it was necessary for the people to discuss their problems in order to find solutions. He said the meeting was an opportunity to share ideas and problems.
Police Officer David S. Conteh explained the consequences of gender based violence when perpetrators and victims come in contract with the law. He said Sierra Leone had been among countries that infiltrate violence against women but currently the situation seems to be changing.
He asked the people to be friendly with the police to facilitate cases that are related to gender base violence. “Community policing is now common” he disclosed.
Spokesman for Village Headmen who spoke at the ceremony assured the organization that they will ensure that violence against women will stop. He informed that they will discourage teenage pregnancy.
Another village headman who buttressed the statement said it was the responsible of a government to take drastic measure to address teenage pregnancy.
He informed that teenage pregnancy is a major drive of poverty. According to him, peer group influence courses of teenage pregnancy. He said community members also encourage teenage pregnancy.
Councilor Mambu T. Sillah of Ward 345 thanked the organization for chosen their communities for the sensitization. According to him, parents must be robust to protect girls. He said teenage pregnancy is prevalence in that ward pointing out that it was timely to educate parent about girls adding that they have potentials to develop their community.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.