The Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone is working closely with the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and other partners for the adoption of a UN Resolution to declare the 18th November as the World Day for Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Healing.

Her Excellency the First Lady Dr. Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio was this week at the Harvard Club in New York for an engagement with partners in the aforementioned direction.

Mrs. Bio is very passionate about the protection of women and girls who face various forms of abuse daily across the world.

This campaign goes beyond race, region, or geographical boundaries which is more the reason she is advocating for a stand-alone resolution for a special day for child sexual abuse victims and survivors.

The following is the statement delivered by the First Lady at the event.
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

In 2020, survivors of child abuse, and sexual violence across the world came together to form a Global Collaborative to launch a campaign calling on world leaders to declare an Annual International Day of Observance to grow awareness of the need to protect children from abuse, especially sexual abuse and to provide greater resources and support for victims and survivors of childhood trauma.

Sierra Leone has since answered this global clarion call.

In the past four years, our government has implemented many reforms to protect children, especially girls from rape, sexual abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and child marriage.

We have implemented policies to break down gender barriers by increasing girls’ enrolment in schools, and providing free education for primary and secondary education for all children in Sierra Leone.

We have implemented laws making the rape of a child a crime punishable by up to 100 years in prison.

As we have heard today, violence against children is a true humanitarian crisis.

Over half of all children in the world – 1 billion children aged 2-17 years – experience violence every year; and 15 million adolescent girls aged 15–19 have experienced forced sex in their lifetime.

In addition to great personal suffering, there are also significant economic burdens associated with childhood violence and abuse. A recent CDC study, The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention, found the total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, and neglect) is approximately $124 billion.

The expert panel has shared that child maltreatment is preventable.

We need a world day to create a platform to share these findings; grow awareness of the problem of childhood violence; mobilize support for greater protection of children, and develop strategies to support those who experienced these tragic violations of dignity in their healing journey.

We believe all nations must work together to stop these crimes against the innocent.

We believe the 18th November, “World Day for the Elimination and Prevention of Child Abuse, and the Protection and Healing of Childhood Dignity” will provide this platform.

The world day will serve as a forum for Member States to collaborate with interested parties including children, victims of abuse, and agencies within the United Nations, governments, and civil society to address the unprecedented rise of violence against children and mobilize greater support for prevention of violence, and healing for those who are suffering.

Our primary objectives are to raise awareness of the problem of violence against children; empower and elevate the voices of all persons who have been impacted by these tragic crimes; enhance the self-worth of victims/survivors by acknowledging their suffering and providing them with opportunities to restore their dignity; to heal the individuals, families, communities, and institutions who have been impacted by childhood violence, exploitation, and sexual abuse; and to foster a world in which all children can flourish.

We kindly request your support for this important resolution.