Rise: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 May 2021:
In his State Opening of Parliament address last Tuesday in Freetown, President Julius Maada Bio announced Sierra Leone will become the Lead Facilitator of a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution on access to justice for survivors of sexual violence.
Sexual violence is a universal issue that demands international recognition. According to the World Health Organization, 35% of women worldwide – 1.3 billion people – are sexual violence survivors.
However, the United Nations General Assembly has never passed a resolution focused solely on protections for sexual violence survivors. Around the world, people are demanding recognition and justice for survivors who are denied basic rights and access to information and justice.
President Bio stated, “Last month I met with rape survivors who shared their stories with me. The silence of leaders has been deafening. We must speak up. I have directed the Sierra Leone Mission to the United Nations to introduce a resolution on access to justice for survivors of sexual violence.”
This move to introduce a resolution on the topic at the UNGA builds on the President’s track record of leading on this issue within the country. In 2018 President Bio became the first Head of State to declare rape and sexual violence a national emergency.
Going forward, the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations will work closely with civil society organizations, namely survivor-led groups such as Rise, to socialize the resolution text with UN Member States Missions and prepare for introduction in the UNGA Third Committee.
“We are grateful to be working with H.E. President Bio and Sierra Leone, who are leading by example from the inside out, to back this resolution,” said Amanda Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Rise. “Although we still have a ways to go, this step is crucial in the process to ensure that sexual violence survivors have access to justice across the world.”
Rise is a survivor-led international non-profit organization that has worked with lawmakers since 2014 to pass 35 laws that create civil rights protections for more than 85 million survivors of sexual violence. Rise is led by Amanda Nguyen, a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Harvard graduate, Forbes Under 30 honoree, and Marie Claire’s Woman of the Year recipient who penned her own civil rights into existence at age 24 by creating and passing the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights.
A short video about Rise’s work can be found linked here. Rise is committed to the passage of a UN resolution securing access to justice for survivors, believing justice should not depend on geography. Over the past four years, Rise has been working with supporters at the United Nations to pass a resolution focused on access to justice for survivors of sexual violence.