On the 3rd October 2019, the Ministry of Youth Affairs extended the Hands Off Our Girls Campaign which is a flagship program of Her Excellency the First Lady Madam Fatima Jabbie Bio to the people of Fabala District as they engaged in a robust Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning Awareness raising program.
The sensitization exercise attracted stakeholders from the 13 Chiefdoms of the District. This district is a predominantly Muslim community and they hold dearly their religious beliefs, customs and traditions. As a result it is a taboo in this part of the country for parents and their kids to discuss sex or anything related to sexual education and family planning. It is therefore no news that teenage pregnancy ?? is very high among the inhabitants of this District. It is against this backdrop that Civil Society Organizations called on the Youth Ministry with support from UNFPA to engage in a campaign that addresses issues of sexual and gender based violence, sexual education, family planning and the need for people to stay away from any sexual activity with children.
In responding to this call, the Ministry of Youth Affairs under the leadership of Mohamed Orman Bangura, Minister of Youth Affairs held a day Reproductive Sexual Education and Family Planning session with inhabitants of the 13 Chiefdoms within the Falaba District.
In his statement, the Minister of Youth Affairs called on stakeholders to work tirelessly in ensuring the high numbers of teenage pregnancy cases in the District are reduced and people who are caught raping or penetrating girls are tried and if found guilty punished by law. He stated that girls should remain girls and parents should take advantage of the free quality education for their female and male kids. No community stakeholder or parent should cover up cases of rape, sexual penetration, gender based violence and teenage pregnancy.
He called on stakeholders and the community people to help the government prevent, protect and punish offenders of sexual and gender based violence in Falaba district and the country as a whole and further urged local authorities to take their place in leading community-based interventions that protect girls from these abuses and violations; uphold their rights; and hold perpetrators to account.
The community stakeholders and the community people were initially not ready to discuss the topic above but after a number of presentations were made they were pleased to discuss issues of sex with their kids and grand kids in the same hall and appreciated the move by the Ministry. They called for more sensitization exercises of this nature so that they will be better informed on issues of rape, sexual penetration, sexual and gender based violence and the amended Sexual Offences Act. They hope to see more Government functionaries visiting the District with educational programs and development. They appreciated the free quality education program of His Excellency the a President of Sierra Leone and promised that they will ensure their female and male kids alike will benefit from the free quality education. They will now police the process to ensure their girls are protected from sexual predators.