Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 May 2018:
Following yesterday’s violent attack on the Mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, allegedly by supporters of the ruling SLPP outside their party headquarters in the capital Freetown, condemnation of the attack has been swift.
The 50/50 Group Secretariat issued this statement today: “The 50/50 Group CONDEMNS the cowardly attack on the Mayor of Freetown, Her Worship, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer. The Group sees this as a gross act of intimidation and bullying on someone voted in to represent ALL Freetonians, regardless of their sex, creed or political party affiliations.
“We call on President Bio, the Inspector-General of the Sierra Leone Police, and all relevant government officials to take ALL steps to bring the perpetrators to book. We believe that there SHOULD be ZERO TOLERANCE to any form of threat, violence and intimidation to Sierra Leoneans, especially WOMEN and children.
“We hope that investigations will be SPEEDY and CONCLUSIVE so that perpetrators are punished to the full extent of the law. This will send a strong message that President Bio’s call for a war on lawlessness and indiscipline is being taken seriously.
“We want to applaud Her Worship, Yvonne Aki Sawyer for her bravery, her commitment and for her stance to make Freetown a better city. We stand by her and commit ourselves to working with her vision for Freetown. We continue to thank Her Worship’s family, friends and the people of Freetown, for giving her a firm support in the execution
“The 50/50 Group and the women of Sierra Leone are committed to working with President Bio and his team to make Sierra Leone a better country”.
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) said: “CHRDI condemns the rising spate of violence against women in politics in Sierra Leone, before and after the general elections.
“We view such violence against women in politics as an overt denial of the fundamental rights of women. It can be defined as a harmful act that is perpetrated against one person’s will and is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between male and female within the context of politics and should therefore be condemned.
“Violence against women in politics is simply a subcategory of violence in politics and more generally highlights weak state capacity and criminal justice system – the result of incomplete democratic consolidation.
“These acts of violence do not only violate women’s political rights and the weak enforcement of both local and international laws that give widespread impunity for criminal offenses, but are also an assault on the quest for equality.
“Violence against women in politics is problematic for a number of reasons; most obviously, it poses a direct threat to women’s ability and willingness to engage in politics. Violence within Sierra Leone’s electoral process is one of the sad hallmarks of our electoral process and one that has seen the country teeter on the brink of destruction.
“This violence has been one of the major deterrents to female aspirants and female voters. Violence against women has also been used as a tool of terror against women who dare to seek elective public office.
“The flip side of this argument is that when women fail to get elected in enough numbers because the entire system undermines their aspirations and candidature, they are then accused of not doing enough to “get themselves elected”.
“As a concerned Public Social-Policy rights based organisation we stand in solidarity with all survivors of electoral violence and call on Sierra Leoneans to join us in breaking the silence against all forms of violence particularly violence against women in the political arena.
“We also call upon the State to perform its constitutional mandate to protect every Sierra Leonean. Chapter 2-section 5-1a of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone states clearly that the security peace and welfare of the people of Sierra Leone shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of Government and to this end it shall be the duty of the armed forces, the police, public officers and all security’s agents to protect and safeguard the people of Sierra Leone.
“Finally we call on those, especially the youth, who are involved in or are being used to perpetrate these heinous acts of violence against women and other opponents, to desist forthwith from such acts.
“In a democratic Sierra Leone where the rights of citizens are respected, there is no room or place for violence against women in politics and we urge all Sierra Leoneans to join us in demanding an end to this.”