Sierra Leone: Rainbo Centres Need Support

By Stephen V. Lansana

The Centre Manager of Freetown Rainbo Centre, Mamanama Amara has called on the government, the private sector and other partners to support the three Rainbo Centres in the country.

Madam Amara made this call on Friday December 9, during the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), at the Rainbo Centre in Freetown. She said that cases of GBV reported at the centres are rapidly increasing in the country, but there is little support. “Without Rainbo Centre, GBV cases will go beyond control,” she said, adding that they deal with rape, sexual and physical assault cases. She added that they are not dealing with physical assault cases at the Freetown Rainbo Centre because of the pressure they get. “In Freetown, we attend to 14 cases per day.”

She said the Rainbo Centre is the only place in the country that provides free services to the victims of GBV, adding that they have stopped some of the privileges that the victims used to enjoy at the centres like the supply of used clothing, food, court visiting and transportation because of lack of financial support. She added that the centres lack drugs.

“The government and other institutions need to support the Rainbo Centres because, it is the only centre that provides free services which includes medical treatment and the issuing of medical certificate to victims of GBV, which is the only certificate that will help to fight GBV cases in the justice sector,” she said.

She explained that the cases of GBV have rapidly increased in Freetown. She said they recorded 1,376 cases from January to November 2016, adding that the figure may increase towards the ending of the year. She said in 2014 they recorded 1,348 GBV cases; while in 2015, they recorded 1,397 cases. “These cases include a sexual penetration on a three-month old child, the impregnation of eleven-years-old child and the raping of 75-years-old women.” He said the cases are increasing because more people are becoming aware of the services offered at the Rainbo Centre. “The victims had trust in the centre and they are not afraid to explain their story,” Amara said.

Managing Director of Fambul Initiative Network for Equality-Sierra Leone (FINE-SL), Reverend George Buanie said the cases of GBV victims are usually thrown out of court not because the victims are not having a legitimate case, but because they cannot afford to pay their transportation to be attending court hearings.

Reverend Buanie said the Rainbo Centre does not only need government support, but also government involvement. He suggested that Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs should start to provide legal representation to Rainbo Centres and also Ministry of Health and Sanitation should allocate some percentage of the free health care drugs to the Rainbo Centres.

Hon. Mrs. Justice Musu Damba Kamara, Justice of the court of Appeal, agreed to the fact that the accused persons have good lawyers and so they go all out to exculpate their clients. She explained that she was the one dealing with the cases involving the three-month-old child who was allegedly penetrated by 65-year -old man, and the 78-years-old women. She said unfortunately the mother of the three-mother-old child did not continue to attend court proceedings. She said the 78-years-old women died before the case reached the trail stage, and her children did not come to court to continue with their mother’s case due to cultural problems.

She added that these are some of the cases that Legal Aid Board defends. “So, we the Judges will have no option but to free them.” She said that they are ready to give remedy to victims of GBV.