Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 May 2017
The death yesterday of a 14 year old girl – named as Mamie Karim, who was allegedly raped by a gang of men in Pujehun, Sierra Leone, has not only brought huge outcry, but has sparked massive demand for the men who are in police custody – charged with rape, to now face murder charge.
The girl was allegedly gang raped at Manowo Village, Malen Chiefdom in Pujehun District. According to information received by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Mamie was transported to Pujehun Headquarters town from Manowo, when her health worsened. Medical examination confirmed that the girl had been raped.
The child was referred on the instructions of the Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affair Minister Sylvia Blyden from Pujehun Government Hospital to the Southern Regional Government Hospital in Bo for specialised gynaecological examination and other specialised treatment.
She was admitted at the Female Surgical Ward on the 17th of March, 2017, where she received regular visits and full support from Social Welfare Ministry Staff and a local NGO – ‘Commit and Act Foundation’.
Provisional diagnosis on admission was done by the Senior Medical Superintendent – Dr. R. Williamson Taylor – a Gynaecologist. Management and nursing procedures for the well-being of the child was ongoing with maximum supervision. She was responding to treatment.
Initially Mamie could not walk very well. But then she gradually improved and was doing well. She was able to move around the hospital with minimum support.
Pictorial evidence shows her smiling when the Social Welfare Minister Dr. Blyden visited her in Bo. Sadly, 14 year old Mamie passed away yesterday, 9th May 2017.
Contacted by the Sierra Leone Telegraph last night to clarify our story, the minister of social and children’s affairs – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden spoke resolutely about what legal action should now be taken. This is what she said:
“I can confirm that sadly the girl was raped, allegedly by more than one man – including male relatives of hers. The crime occurred in February 2017. But her family in a remote village of Pujehun were slow in reporting.
“The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA) learnt of the gang rape in March 2017. And with my strong personal intervention and the help of the Attorney General and Justice Minister – Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, we both together with the Police, ensured the alleged perpetrators (including a male relative) were arrested.
“They were swiftly charged to the Pujehun Magistrate Court for crimes – including gang rape (forced sexual penetration). All suspects were denied bail and remanded in custody.
“Those criminal charges were swiftly brought with the speedy help of the Attorney General in the same month of March 2017, when we first learnt of the rape.
“However, back in March 2017, the poor girl was visibly unwell. So I directed my Southern Regional Director – Mr. Patrick Bangura, to immediately move both the girl and the girl’s mother from Pujehun to Bo Government Hospital for better medical care.
“Also, in March 2017, myself as the Honourable Minister of Children’s Affairs, made my first visit to the poor child in the hospital.
“And since March 2017, my ministry along with Partners have been keeping a close eye on her in hospital, whilst handling all costs of her feeding, medical and psychosocial support. But few days ago, she took a sudden turn for the worse and her health deteriorated very fast.
“Sadly, she died today, 9th of May, 2017, at around midday. I immediately activated all relevant agencies – including the police, medical and justice sectors to have the remains of the girl protected for post mortem examination.
“The Attorney General’s office is on alert to have the March 2017 sexual penetration charges upgraded to Murder, should the post mortem examination prove that her death is as a result of the February 2017 rape.
“In fact, I personally spent almost two hours this afternoon of 9th May, 2017, with the Director of Public Prosecutions – Suleiman Bah Esq. discussing this case.
“The public can be rest assured that both the Justice Minister and I, are going to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done.
“It is however a fact that the country as a whole, not just Pujehun, has challenges in protecting our children; and we as a Government will continue to work towards improving our service delivery for our children – including sensitising families and communities on child rights and child protection.”