Women in Sierra Leone
AdvocAid was founded to respond to a dire need to support women in the judicial system. Sierra Leone remains a patriarchal society; one where women are disadvantaged and under-represented in both the traditional and formal governance systems. Imprisonment is closely related to poverty, both as the reason for women’s offences and because women most often cannot afford legal services or to pay fines or bail.
Antiquated laws mean that too often women are imprisoned for allegations over small debts, including those incurred by their husbands, and other petty crimes. Most women in detention tend to have a background of physical and emotional abuse or mental health problems.
Women are often primary or sole carers and their detention can have a devastating effect on their family, particularly on young children, who may be detained with their mothers. Women are often abandoned by their families once arrested due to the social stigma or simply because of distances, leaving them with no one to advocate for them or to assist.