The Queen of the Mano River Union, Goretti Itoka, joined the Henrietta Mbawa Foundation in Sierra Leone to raise awareness on rising cases of sexual gender-based violence in the MRU basin.
Serving as guest speaker at the movie premiere of “Pekin for be Pekin” (Children should be children) at the Raddison Blu Mamie Yoko Hotel in Freetown, Sierra-Leone on September 7, Ms. Itoka, 23, said the cases in the region are disconcerting and require urgent action. The Mano River Union consists of four countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra-Leone and the Ivory Coast.
The movie centered around Goal # 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals which focuses on gender equality and was organized by the Henrietta Mbawah Foundation, holder of the Miss Mano River Union International franchise. For Goretti, her presence at the premier demonstrates her commitment and desire to achieving gender equality.
She said the alarming case of rape has placed the situation of women and girls in the subregion in a declining state. She lamented that despite the decades of advocacy on the continent for women’s peace and security, the hand of many SGBV cases within the subregion remains gender blind.
The MRU queen, who also majors in agriculture at the Stella Maris Polytechnic University and is the face of Bravo mineral water, informed the audience that anti-rape protest held in Sierra-Leone is not unique to that country, saying Liberia has its own share of the problem with over 900 cases rape between January and July 2020.
“Few days ago, young people in Liberia staged a 3-day protest to end the culture of rape. This was a clarion call aimed at pushing our leaders to strengthen the existing laws, and asking for rapists to be given more stringent punishments they deserve. It’s my hope and prayer that this campaign will yield fruitful results.”
She added that it is not only time to talk the talk but also walk the walk. She called on her audience to petition their leaders to strengthen rape and domestic violence laws so moe perpetrators can be caught and brought to justice in order to end the culture of SGBV.
She added that collective efforts are needed amongst MRU leaders to minimize and eradicate SGBV within the sub region.
“Let us fight this fight together and help achieve Gender Equality in the MRU countries. That is why as Miss Mano River Union International, my platform focuses on empowering women via agriculture to give them independence.
“In conclusion, let me remind our leaders of the MRU Countries, that we need empowerment and not molestation; Education and not discrimination; Justice and not injustice; and above all else, equality and not subordination.”
The MRU International Queen ended her speech by reminding leaders within the MRU countries that women need empowerment and not molestation; Education and not discrimination; Justice and not injustice; and above all else, equality and not subordination.”