JHR gets traditional justice on side in the fight against domestic abuse in Sierra Leone

JHR-trained journalist Issata Kamara has impacted the lives of thousands of women across Kambia, Sierra Leone- thanks to her story on domestic abuse.
In the fall of 2011 Issata Kamara’s story on domestic abuse sparked new laws to safeguard the lives of thousands of women in Kambia, Sierra Leone.
Thanks to the work of JHR-trainee journalist Kamara, of Radio Kolenten, the 2007 Domestic Violence act criminalizing spousal abuse is being enforced through traditional courts in Kambia – a district in the north of Sierra Leone.
“People think it’s the culture to beat your wife. They didn’t know the legislation,” said Kamara, who hosts the popular radio show Women Talk that exposes important issues facing women in the region.
Through a fellowship provided by JHR in the fall of 2012 and on-going mentorship from JHR-trainer Andrew Ewoku, Kamara investigated a story about domestic violence against women in the area.  “I spoke to local stakeholders, chiefs, women leaders,” she says, “tying what they said back to the legislation that was in place.”
Kamara’s hard work and dedication paid off. After her story went to air, Chief Bai Farma Casbobor Onbak, who governs part of the Kambia district,  introduced a bylaw that denounced domestic violence against women, embedding change at the traditional justice level.
This is a huge success for JHR; with support from traditional justice Kamara and women in the Kambia district can now be assured spousal abuse will no longer go unpunished or ignored. “People respect and listen to their chiefs,” says Kamara.
Kamara continues to follow the story, and the specific cases of spousal abuse she hears about. She is hoping more chiefs will come on board to introduce by-laws, ensuring that national legislation is implemented on a local level across the country.

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