AdvocAid works across Sierra Leone to ensure girls and women are aware of their legal and human rights. This is a critical component of our service delivery, ensuring that girls and women are better equipped to know their rights, and have the confidence to assert them when confronted by the law.
We deliver our rights awareness programme in a number of different ways:
Legal education: when providing legal assistance to a girl or woman, we will advise them of what we have done to intervene, the reasons for why they are being detained, and what their legal rights are within the situation. Similarly, when representing girls and women in court, we’ll ensure they know what is happening at every step of the way, along with specific details such as what it means to plead guilty or not guilty and what a confession is.
With appropriate funding, we’re able to run monthly one-day legal rights workshops in correctional centres, advising attendees about legal rights including; details about bail, the length of time you can be held without charge and your rights when in prison. These workshops are run with the aid of our arrest rights manual, “After You Have Been Arrested”.
Tragically, a large number of women in Sierra Leone are caught up in a weak legal system due to not knowing such basic information as this. Only 9.5% of the female population in Sierra Leone are educated to secondary level – this positions them at a distinct disadvantage and can leave them in detention, unnecessarily, for years on end. Read MK’s story to learn more about how this can happen.
We also conduct legal rights training for specific groups of women who are vulnerable to coming into conflict with the law, such as market women and sex workers.
As well as one-to-one rights awareness, AdvocAid delivers large, national scale campaigns that focus on key legal rights messages. Such campaigns include:
- Police Case, our educational fictional TV series broadcast on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation, followed by telephone call-ins or SMS messages to discuss legal rights. Learn more about Police Case.
- Pay No Bribe for Bail: a national campaign to educate girls, women and their families to not pay bribes for bail; a very common challenge across the country. Learn more about the Pay No Bribe For Bail Campaign.
- Nar Yu Right, a song to educate women about their rights; recorded in 2013 for Human Rights Day in Freetown Correctional Centre, Nar Yu Right was led by female Sierra Leonean hip hop artist, Star Zee. It is the first music video filmed in a prison in West Africa. 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.
- Boinke, a short radio drama highlighting issues of women detained for debt and promoting alternative mediation resolution. This drama has been aired several times on radio stations across the country.