Most Sierra Leoneans approve of the government’s declaration of rape as a national emergency as well as its toughening of the Sexual Offences Act, but a majority believe more needs to be done to address the country’s sexual-violence problem, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.
Majorities believe that the government was right in declaring rape a national emergency and that harsher new punishments will reduce sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country. But few citizens believe that these measures will be enough. Many want the government to do more to educate people and change sexual attitudes and behaviors.
Following pressure and protest by civil society groups after the rape and paralysis of a 5-year- old girl, President Julius Maada Bio declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency. Parliament subsequently passed the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act of 2019, incorporating some of the punishments articulated by the president in his declaration.