News Brief

Rape has Been Declared a National Emergency in Sierra Leone

President Julius Maada Bio made the announcement following calls on stricter punishment for sexual violence crimes.

According to BBC Africa, Sierra Leone has declared rape a national emergency following a string of horrific sexual violence cases involving minors. Assaults of minors account for up to one third of all cases of sexual violence in the country.

After hearing a young Ebola survivor detail how she was repeatedly raped, President Julius Maada Bio said:

"With immediate effect, sexual penetration of minors is punishable by life imprisonment. My government will ensure that men who rape have no place in society and also any man who rapes will be jailed forever so that a single rape becomes the last rape.''

Over the past three years, rape statistics have reportedly been increasing in the country with over 12 000 cases reported in 2017. In December of last year, the state launched a campaign entitled "Hands Off Our Girls" which sought to enforce stricter punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence particularly against minors. The campaign was spearheaded by the country's First Lady, Fatima Bio.

Speaking about the campaign, First Lady Bio said:

"Any man who rapes or places any form of violence against women and girls is not a real man and doesn't fit in any decent society. Almost all girls who are raped are most likely to drop out of school. If the girl child is forced into early marriage, the bride price lasts only for two months. But if the girl child is cared for until she finishes her education, the benefit to the parents lasts forever."

Activists in the country have lamented how many cases actually go unreported. And when they are reported, the perpetrator is prosecuted and sentenced to between 5 to 15 years in prison. A 56-year-old man who raped a 6-year-old last year, was given a pathetic one year prison sentence.

President Bio has called on Sierra Leone to restore dignity and pride back to its women and young girls.

Photo: Donpaul Kamau

Kenya’s Throttle Queens Rule The Road

What started out as a group of women wanting to increase road safety awareness has turned into a bond forged by freedom and friendship.

Around 5 years ago, alarmed by the increase in grisly road accidents between bikers and vehicles, a group of seven women bikers from Kenya established a club with the aim of making Nairobi’s motorcycling community safer and more inclusive. So far, the group, popularly known as the Throttle Queens, has not only encouraged other women to get on the bike, but it’s also become an extension of the founders’ own personal – and collective – freedom.

Since forming, the Throttle Queens have attracted much attention for their moves. Their adventures on the road have seen them become the subject of an Al Jazeera short film, directed by filmmaker Joan Kabagu, which is airing on the channel until January 4th 2022. They’ve completed a number of trips, the furthest being when they rode more than 1,100 kilometers, or about 683 miles, over three days to Kigali, Rwanda’s capital in April 2019, in an effort to sensitize road users on the importance of road sharing.

“We believe in sisterhood and empowerment among women riders,” Ciku Mbithi, Throttle Queens co-founder, told

OkayAfrica. “We felt that our needs as women were not being fully met by the wider motorcycle community.
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