Eva Mendes, best known for playing Will Smith’s love interest in the 2004 blockbuster Hitch has just returned to the US after her first trip to Sierra Leone. Mendes was there to film a yet to be released documentary to raise awareness about the high incidence of rape cases amongst women and young girls. Also on the trip was NY Times Correspondent Nick Kristof who filed several articles on the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) rape treatment center in Sierra Leone. IRC has reportedly treated over 9000 rape cases since 2003. Sadly, only 1% of those cases ever result in “criminal convictions”. Some believe that the rise in sexual violence in Sierra Leone is a lingering unresolved effect of the country’s decade long civil war. But I would add that the socio cultural status of women in Sierra Leone further heightens the problem. If a woman or a young girl is seen as property as they many times are, then violations to their bodies are acceptable. Sierra Leone needs to do better for its girls.
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