The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has pledged to strengthen the Office of the Directorate of Gender and Equal Opportunities of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).
This will entail capacity-building for staff, setting up a Gender Desk Offices in all the three Brigades, educating members of the army on the laws through outreach events, addressing issues of domestic violence and ensuring compliance respect of child and spousal maintenance.
This commitment was made at a meeting between the Legal Aid Board and the Directorate of Gender and Equal Opportunity represented by Major Julia Kamanda the Staff Officer for Equal Opportunities and Captain Cecilia Munu the Staff Officer for Gender on 21 January 2020.
Among key challenges facing the Department include handling abuses involving domestic violence perpetrated by senior officers of the army, enforcing monthly payment of child and spousal maintenance and ignorance of the gender laws.
There is also the issues of reluctance by members of the army to accept that monthly child maintenance goes towards feeding only. This means, it does not include accommodation, education and healthcare which must be provided separately.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles said she was shocked to learn that anybody could think that the monthly child maintenance of say Le 300,000 should take care of feeding, education, healthcare and accommodation. She said she will be proposing a meeting with the leadership of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) to discuss ways of strengthening the Department, child maintenance and the holding of outreach events in army barracks around the country.
The latter is meant to educate members of the army on the Gender Laws – Devolution of Estate Act 2007, Domestic Violence Act 2007, Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2009, Sexual Offences Act 2012 (As Amended).
The Board will also discuss referral to the Board of child maintenance matters which the Directorate cannot handle due to issues of compliance. ‘We want to takeover matters involving military officers who prove to be difficult or refuse to compile with settlement reached relating child maintenance money they are supposed to pay at the end of the month,’ Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said.