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.
x
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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid