Statement on National Emergency Declaration, 7th February 2019

On Thursday 7th February 2019, the President of Sierra Leone announced a national emergency on rape and sexual violence in Sierra Leone. The emergency was announced at State House and Rainbo Initiative were honored to be there to deliver a speech preceding the President’s announcement.

Rainbo Initiative’s speech was read by Dr Olabisi Claudius Cole, the Chair of Rainbo Initiative’s Board and one of Rainbo’s 2 medical doctors working at the Freetown Rainbo Centre. You can read the speech below:

His Excellency Dr Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, her Excellency Mrs Fatima Bio the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Honorable Chief Justice, esteemed Ministers, members of the diplomatic community, the press, ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s historic declaration is a landmark in tackling Sexual Gender Based-Violence in sierra Leone and this was made possible by the tireless voices of survivors (women & girls) and activists who have been working on this issue away from the spotlight, without resources or recognition.

We thank the president for listening to these voices and acknowledging the urgency of this issue and for allowing Rainbo Initiative to make a statement on this historic event.

Since inception in 2003, Rainbo Initiative has transformed itself into a well-established, reliable, credible national service provider that has supported over 30,000 survivors of GBV and 93% of them are girls under 17 years old. We are the only provider of free medical and psychosocial services for survivors of Gender Based-Violence (GBV) in Sierra Leone. At present, Rainbo Initiative operates 5 Rainbo Centres situated at government hospitals in Freetown, Kono, Kenema, Bo and Makeni.

Gender-based violence and rape is a huge problem in Sierra Leone with the World Health Organisation estimating that 1 in 3 women will have experienced rape within their life time.

In 2018 Rainbo centres saw 3,137 cases of sexual and physical assault in our 5 Rainbo Centres highlighted below:

  Freetown Kenema Kono Bo Makeni Grand Total
# of sexual assault cases 1598 717 517 53 15 2900
# of physical assault cases 2 32 203 0 0 237

The youngest survivor seen this year is 12 months and youngest pregnancy as result of rape 12 years. 

Our staff at Rainbo Centres see 10-15 new cases every day and are becoming overwhelmed. The numbers keep on rising. The cases seen are often girls under 17 who are raped by a neighbor, family member or teacher. It is usually someone the survivor knows who commits the illegal act of rape.

Rainbo Initiative provides a medical certificate which is used in court as evidence to prosecute the perpetrator but unfortunately only 1.2% of cases in 2018 ended in a successful prosecution.

I am very pleased that the problem of gender-based violence in Sierra Leone is finally getting the attention of Government and concrete actions being taken to address this menace in our society. But we still have a long way to go.

We are calling for a multi-sector approach in tackling the problem. Coupled with the current government’s backing and the support and hard work of key partners in the sector, I have hopes that this horrendous problem will diminish.

In order to continue doing our work, funding and other types of support are needed. For now, Rainbo Initiative rely 100% on funding from donors that is not sustainable. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders Irish Aid, International Rescue Committee, OSIWA, Save the Children and Trocaire for supporting Rainbo Centres over the past 10 years. Without these vital funds Rainbo Centres would not exist.

Finally, I’m calling on everyone to join us in the fight against SGBV. Together we can protect women and girls of Sierra Leone and end gender-based violence for good.

Thank you.

New Outreach Interns

In early December 2018, Rainbo Initiative welcomed 6 new Outreach Interns to the Rainbo family. These six Interns will start outreach activities in and around our new Rainbo Centres at Bo and Makeni. Below is a photo of the Outreach Interns after receiving their two-day orientation training in the Rainbo Initiative Office in Freetown.

New Rainbo Initiative Office

At the end of November 2018, Rainbo Initiative’s Head Office moved along Wilkinson Road, from 17 UN Drive to 32B Smart Farm Road. Our new office is much more spacious and has lots of room for our growing number of staff.

New Rainbo Centres

In November 2018 Rainbo Initiative opened two new Rainbo Centres in Bo and Makeni. Rainbo Initiative are very proud to have extended its reach to these new areas of Sierra Leone.

These new Centres are in partnership with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children’s Affairs and the Ministry of Health. Rainbo Initiative are pleased that the Sierra Leone government are starting to engage and support the Rainbo Initiative and join us in the fight to end gender-based violence.