Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 January 2020:
President Bio’s fight against gender-based violence has taken a big knock, following reports of the paramount chief of Bonthe – Madam Melrose Foster Gberie, subjected to horrific gender based violence at her home in Bonthe which is the homeland of president Julius Maada Bio,.
According to media reports, she was attacked a week ago on Saturday January 11th 2020. Sierra Leone Police are investigating whilst also providing security at her property.
The Paramount Chief’s sister who complained of being gang-raped during the 7-hours long siege and then abducted, was later discovered ‘half-dead’ in another remote village and has been hospitalized at the Government Hospital in Bonthe District headquarters of Mattru Jong.
Doctors say she can now slowly speak of her ordeal but will need continuous medical and surgical care for some time to come.
According to media report, no one from the Ministry of Social Welfare or from Ministry of Gender & Children’s Affairs, has visited the female Paramount Chief or children and women in her compound, who are currently traumatised by the attack which happened over 7 days ago. No counselling has been offered to the affected women and children.
The Office of the President at State House is also being accused of paying no interest in this matter, despite the president’s public campaign about protecting Women. No one from the president’s office has called the female Paramount Chief, the reports say.
“The Office of the First Lady has also not lifted a finger to even phone up the female Paramount Chief and extend sympathies for such an awful torture on a Women of Substance like P.C. Madam Melrose Foster Gberie. President Bio’s efforts to protect Women, advance Women and prevent Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV) are laudable on paper but clearly, his home district has now wrought a disaster on his regime’s credentials in this area,” said Dr Sylvia Blyden in Freetown.
“Furthermore, the lack of concern and complete silence of critical voices in this country over this egregious abomination against a female Paramount Chief, speaks volumes of what obtains inside Sierra Leone currently.
“Are the various Women’s Groups (Women’s Forum, 50/50, SPRoWNet etc. etc.) afraid to issue out statements of condemnation of this defilement? If so, why? For what reasons are they hesitating? Who are they afraid of?
“Last week, some recognised Sierra Leone Civil Society groups quickly issued joint condemnation when an American citizen, Henry Costa was briefly detained by police. This is understandable as American Agencies like NED, NDI, etc. etc. do finance work of these Civil Society groups. So they rushed to please the Americans. However, these same groups are mute over such unbelievable horror which happened to a female leader of as high a rank as Paramount Chief?
“Why the lack of concern over this dangerous development that unfolded in Bonthe District on January 11th 2020? What’s happening to Sierra Leone? Where is our collective conscience? Fellow Citizens, how can we stay silent at something like this?” Dr Blyden asks.