By Luisa T. Schneider, Postdoctoral research fellow, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. First published on The Conversation
Sierra Leone has a long history of sexual and gender based violence, dating back to the colonial era and stretching into the years of independence which began in 1961. The country’s civil war, which raged between 1991 and 2002, brought international attention to the high levels of violence against women.
In this way, Sierra Leone is similar to many young democracies in Africa with a violent history; it struggles with patriarchal attitudes and high levels of violence against women and girls.
After the war, several legal changes were made to try and address this kind of violence. One was the Domestic Violence Act, ratified in 2007. It criminalises all forms of violence – physical, sexual, emotional and economic — against women and outlines strict punishments for perpetrators.