Project: Increasing access to justice for rural women
Location: Sierra Leone, Bo District
Duration: 2011 –2014
Partner: Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES)
The problem of violence against women (VAW) in Sierra Leone is widespread and includes discrimination, exclusion and restriction of their basic rights. Following the 11 year civil war, the country has passed various laws for the protection of women; however, VAW continues, especially domestic violence in rural areas. This problem is made more complex by limited access to a centralised justice system and lack of accompanying structures at the community level; a dual justice system (with informal system being discriminatory towards women) and a highly patriarchal society.
In 2008-9, some 1,567 actions of violence against women were recorded in the proposed project areas. The conviction rate was 0. This is most often due to the lack of witnesses being willing or able to testify in court, survivors being too compromised or intimidated to continue or hostility by the Courts on VAW.
What Womankind is doing
Womankind and its partner WAVES are working to increase rural women’s access to justice by protecting and promoting the welfare and rights of women and girls who are survivors of violence. The project will support individual women survivors of violence to access justice; change attitudes in communities towards VAW; ensure that all women understand their rights and how to claim them and that those who have a responsibility to protect and promote those rights do so.
In addition, the project will provide support for survivors of violence seeking redress; for example through support for transportation and accommodation to survivors and witnesses. It will also help provide survivors with legal aid in the short term, whilst providing capacity at community level to train paralegals for the long term.
With our partner we are working to:
- Reduce VAW by 80% in the target communities, directly benefitting 1,758 women and 296 men
- Contribute to increased capacity for 240 survivors of violence to seek redress
- Train 150 duty bearers on rights, responsibilities and obligations of authorities to protect and promote rights
- Train 270 women in advocacy and court monitoring and 450 women on their rights, and legal ramifications
- Support 150 female and 90 male witnesses of violence against women (VAW) to bring perpetrators to justice
What we have achieved so far
The project started in April 2011 and to date has been busy getting established and securing the community’s support for the work.
We will update this section with achievements as the project progresses.