News / Africa

Song Promotes Human Rights Day in Sierra Leone

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. The U.N. General Assembly adopted the date in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Sierra Leone, one non-governmental organization called Advocaid is getting creative and using the date to launch a new song, meant to educate women about their rights.

A catchy upbeat tune is playing for the first time across the nation today, and there is a strong message behind it. The song, called Nar Yu Right,  focuses on explaining to women about their legal rights, such as not to sign anything that they do not understand when taken into police custody or that they are innocent until proven guilty.



Well-known Sierra Leoneon hip hop artist Star Zee sings the song. The concept for it came from Advocaid. The group provides education and reintegration for female detainees and their children and offers free legal aid to women who cannot afford a lawyer.

Many times, women are put in jail even though they are innocent.

Defending rights

One woman who Advocaid has helped spoke in her native Krio language and explained that she was accused of murdering her boyfriend, when in fact he died due to an accident.

Sonia Osho-Williams, a program officer with Advocaid, said, many times women are too afraid to speak out and seek help, especially women working in the commercial sex trade industry.

"So these women sometimes feel they do not have a voice and they are incredibly scared of actually going to police because they feel marginalized and that no one is there to support them because they are stereotyped, victimized, discriminated against," she said.

Many women the organization works with also are in jail after defending themselves in a domestic abuse situation.

"When you hear some of these stories about these women, a lot of them are victims of domestic violence, a lot of them are victims of gender-based violence. A lot of them, it's as a result of retaliating or self-defense that they become perpetrators, become in conflict with the law," said Osho-Williams.

Gender violence

Leading up to International Human Rights Day are 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. This is an international campaign to raise awareness about violence against women and take action to eradicate it. It began November 25 and ends on International Human Rights Day.

A 2013 World Health Organization global study says 35 percent of women around the world have experienced either physical or sexual violence.

Osho-Williams said the Nar Yu Right music video was shot in a female prison in Freetown and the prisoners loved it while learning more about their rights.

Prioritizing education

Charles Vandi is the director of Gender Affairs at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs. He said the government is taking steps to educate men about domestic violence. A new program called Fine Sierra Leone attempts to reach out to men and boys across the country.

"For instance, if you get to these men and boys who are the likelihood source of perpetrating gender-based violence, you need to educate them what is gender-based violence. What are the forms, types, consequences, effects of gender-based violence then they realize and figure, oh, I am in that bracket," said Vandi.

Vandi added that Sierra Leone has passed several laws over the years to help women when it comes to human rights such as the Sexual Offenses Act. The law raised the minimum jail sentence for gender-based violence from two years to a five-to-15.

The law, passed last year, also prohibits forced sex in a marriage and cases being held out of court.

As for the song being played, women who have received help from Advocaid say they believe it can make a difference, and they hope that it will help others so they do not have to go through the same experience.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs