An Appeal Court Judge has disclosed that testimonies of female commercial sex workers in the country indicate that male Police officers most often abuse them at night.

Justice Reginald Fynn said this was revealed to the top hierarchy of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone during their “Moonlight” visit to two red light district areas at Texaco-east of Freetown, and a location in Makeni in the north between September and October this year.

He pointed this out during his presentation on the topic “Testimonies and interactive session with PLHIV and key population Groups” at the commencement of a two-day consultative dialogue on human rights and Social Justice involving the National HIV/AIDS Secretariat, partners, and Judiciary.

“The police hang around like vampires, like vultures that once a sex worker seems to be doing well that evening, a policeman might arrest that sex worker, take her away, threaten to prosecute her, and take all the proceeds she had earned,” Justice Fynn noted. He added: “and in the worst of cases, will proceed to have intercourse with her after taking all her money.

According to Justice Fynn, the sex workers were teenagers of school-going age, as well as older women who could hardly be linked to the practice during the daytime. In Makeni in particular, he said some of the sex workers narrated their ordeal of being paid as low as (NLE 5) Five New Leones and at times offered their services on ‘credit’.

The Appeal Court judge further pointed out that many a time a woman would leave her colleagues to offer herself in unknown and isolated places which could be dangerous. “Girls can even get killed in that process,” he said.

The judge mentioned a drop-in center for sex workers in Makeni called Rofutha Development Association (RODA) that offers a safe space for testing and treatment. According to him, the center also offers counseling for persons living with HIV/AIDS and other Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs). Justice Fynn also pointed out that at the center, some of the sex workers who have contracted HIV/ AIDS are taunted by their colleagues. He said they were also told that drugs that prevent pregnant women from transmitting the virus to the unborn child were not available at the center.

Justice Fynn also narrated how a teenage sex worker asked nurses in hospitals that disclose the identity of Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV/AIDS) to be punished.

In his keynote address, Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards condemned all forms of discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS and assured that their rights would be protected, as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby encouraged the public to go and get tested for the virus. According to him, once tested positive, there is treatment available at all public hospitals for free, and the infected person lives almost like a normal person.

The Director General of National HIV/AIDS Secretariat, Abdulrahman Sesay noted that over 70 thousand Sierra Leoneans are living with the virus with the Western Area having the most infected persons. About 48 thousand of those infected are on treatment while the rest are at risk of spreading the virus to the public.

The program was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown from the 17th to 18th of November, 2023, with the theme “promoting justice and equal society within the context of HIV/AIDS.”