Women’s Rights in Sierra Leone

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Sierra Leone

There is no sufficient way to summarize a woman’s rights in Sierra Leone in a brief post on this blog. Women face a staggering duality in regards to how the government views them. While steps have been taken to improve their rights in the laws (New Laws 2007), more is needed.

To begin, pregnant women face difficulty in acquiring the medical care necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy. There is virtually no access to pre-natal vitamins. Drugs that should have been made available to them for free, have been paid for out-of-pocket. This inflicts an even greater risk due to inflated poverty.

9_Sierra Leone_photo queue of women

Women also face strong opposition to obtaining economic status due to the highly patriarchal attitude within the society. These women are seen primarily as mothers and “house keepers”, not typically as contributing members of the culture. They are thus, denied the right to any kind of basic education including efforts towards literacy. This stigma, while damaging, is not the truly gruesome, pervasive matter which affects their lives.

It is unfortunate, but there has been many reports of widespread rape and domestic violence. While the 2007 laws’ definition of abuse includes these actions, the police force is horrifically ineffective at solving this issue. Women living in the rural areas are even more susceptible to this type of grotesque abuse because the infrastructure is even less developed than in places like the capital, Freetown. (Women’s Rights Overview)

It has also been estimated by Amnesty International (Amnesty International), that between 65 and 90 percent of all women of age have undergone FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). This is the practice of forcibly removing external parts of female genitalia. In some areas of the world, this process is even seen as a passage into adult woman-hood. As much as 60% of Sierra Leone’s population is considered Muslim and this practice could be seen as a way to diminish a woman’s sexual desire.

While the politicians of Sierra Leone seem to be working towards solutions to these problems, it is obvious to any reasonable observer that they are not doing enough. As of today, there have been no new initiatives to improve the circumstances that most women in Sierra Leone currently find themselves. Which is, a society dominated by men that, in some cases, feel they have the right to treat them however they wish.


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