News / Africa

Sierra Leone TV Show Offers Legal Advice for Women

Women sit on the porch of a house in the Congo Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.Women sit on the porch of a house in the Congo Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.
Women sit on the porch of a house in the Congo Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.
Women sit on the porch of a house in the Congo Town neighborhood of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, April 28, 2012.
FREETOWN — In Sierra Leone, a group called AdvocAid is taking an innovative approach to helping educate women on their legal rights - by dramatizing issues on television. 

One woman in Sierra Leone, Fatima, says she'll never forget the experience of police throwing her in detention for a crime she never committed.

"The room where I was sleeping was filthy, no care and I don't have right to talk to my relative, my mother," she said.

Fatima - not her real name - was accused of embezzling 10 million leones, or just over 2,000 U.S. dollars.

She said she was denied her basic legal rights and did not know any better. The maximum time a person can be detained under Sierra Leonean law without being charged in court is three days. Fatima says she was detained for six days and had no access to a lawyer.

Word got out to AdvocAid. Members of the non-governmental organization provided Fatima with a lawyer and the case was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence.  

Her situation is not uncommon because most women do not know their rights, she said.
"I'm seeing my friends suffering, mostly ladies suffering, in police station. "

Today, Fatima is a paralegal and works for the same group that helped her. In the past year, AdvocAid has helped more than 400 women in Sierra Leone who were denied their legal rights in some way.  

Fatima said the most common problem is that women are not informed of the reason for their arrest.  

To help empower women, Advocaid has joined forces with a local production company in Freetown to create a television drama series called "Police Case."

On the set of the show, actors are filming an episode about a character named Adama, facing a charge of domestic violence, who was arrested and thrown in jail without access to a lawyer.

Whitsunnette Wright is the Sierra Leonean actress who plays Adama.

"I also want to be a part, to pass on message to people who have been involved in some of these issues. We hope that people understand how they should be treated," Wright said.

Treatment a woman known as M.K. wishes she had been given. M.K. said she is grateful to be alive after being accused of murdering her stepdaughter in 2003. She was denied her right to a fair trial and ended up on death row, she said.

M.K. was the longest serving woman on death row in Sierra Leone until Advocaid helped prove her innocent.

She hopes "Police Case" will help others know about their legal rights so they do not have to go through what she did.

Advocaid's Fatima says the TV series is only meant to educate, not to put the legal system or police in a bad light.

"Some are doing a good job but some are not," Fatima said. "I always have a problem with those not doing a good job."

Meanwhile, on the set of the show, actors are in a cell at a police station, rehearsing.

One policeman watching the scene says the series is welcome, but he also hopes that viewers realize most police do want to help them.

"We are not here to seize any rights against anybody," he said. "We are here to prevent crime and protect citizens, to make sure they are in a safe country and to make sure everything is safe."

"Police Case" is to set to air at the end of July.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs