The stories of the women we work with best demonstrate the holistic support we provide to girls and women in Sierra Leone, ensuring they have access to justice, are provided with rehabilitative support whilst in detention and understand the rights they are entitled to.
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On 26 May 2003, ‘MK’ (name protected for her privacy) was arrested and detained in Sierra Leone, for the murder of her step-daughter. Between 2003 and the beginning of her trial in March 2005, MK received no legal advice or assistance. It was only at the start of the trial that she was allocated a state-assigned defence lawyer, who was so busy, he had just three meetings with her of less than 15 minutes each.
In 2015, one of AdvocAid’ Western Area paralegals provided vital Legal Aid to Fatmata (name changed to protect her identity), a resident in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. AdvocAid has a strong presence in this region, with three Paralegals and two Duty Counsel Lawyers based there, providing support to women and girls in conflict with the law. It is a densely populated area and contains extremes of the very wealthy, and the very poor.
Mustapha and Aminata's story
Not all of the girls and women AdvocAid supports are involved in lengthy court cases. At AdvocAid, we see our role as a varied one, including ensuring the police and courts abide by the country’s constitutional rules and that detainees rights are upheld.
In 2014, AdvocAid was involved in representing a lady called Isatu (name changed to protect her identity) who was standing trial for murder in the Freetown Magistrates Court. Isatu is 22 years old, and has one son.
Favour’s story is a sad one that really serves to highlight the patriarchal force under which so many women in Sierra Leone live. AdvocAid first became aware of Favour (name changed to protect identity) when she was on remand at a Freetown Police Station for Perverting the Course of Justice, during Sierra Leone’s Ebola outbreak in 2014/15.
Sierra Leone's Women Behind Bars
A film crew from IRIN followed the work of two of AdvocAid’s paralegals, Marvel and Victoria, in Freetown and Makeni. This short film showcases the challenges they face and the importance of their free legal aid services with a growing female prison population and shortage of lawyers.