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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs