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.
Favour is an orphan, who had been receiving counselling at a church in Kissy (an area of Freetown) and was staying with the pastor of the church and his family. She befriended an elder of the church who was also a police officer – Ishmael (name changed to protect identity). During one of the three day lockdowns imposed during the Ebola outbreak, Ishmael invited Favour to stay with him and his family. She agree and developed a fond relationship for their family, especially the daughter who was of a similar age.
The warmth she received from Ishmael and members of his family encouraged her to continue her to stay with them. One day, she was asked by Ishmael to visit him to collect some items for the home from his police station. She went there but couldn’t find him. She called and was directed to a new location which she duly visited.
Ishmael was there waiting for her, and proceeded to rape her.
Favour immediately went to the police station and made a report. Shortly afterwards, she received a call from pastors of the church ordering her to immediately report at the church. She went, and a number of church officials persuaded her to go to the police station and alter her report.
She did as she was instructed, by people she trusted.
The alteration of her report led to her being charged with Perverting the Course of Justice. She was remanded for four days, during which time AdvocAid’s Paralegal heard about her case and went straight to her assistance. With the intervention of both AdvocAid’s Legal Officer and Paralegal, Favour was granted bail and taken to a girl’s shelter pending investigation.
Ishmael was immediately charged and suspended from his position as a senior police officer.We ensured that the charge for Perverting the Course of Justice was dropped, and Favour’s rape matter was referred to LAWYERS, one of our partners and an organization that specialises in providing legal aid to prosecute Sexual Offence Matters.
An extended family member has been identified, and Favour now lives with them.