Womankind Worldwide Lifeline


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Womankind Worldwide

Angela Rippon travels to Sierra Leone to appeal on behalf of Womankind Worldwide, a charity working to tackle violence and discrimination against women.


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Just look at this place. It's idyllic, isn't it?

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But don't be fooled by the scenery.

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In my working life,

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I have travelled to many countries in the world

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but it has been quite a few years since I was in one that had

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such a brutal and tragic recent past

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as this small West African country. Sierra Leone.

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It's clear that everyone here is living with the legacy of

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the devastating civil war that raged in this country

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for more than a decade.

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But I've come here to learn about the particular hardships

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and injustice faced by the women of Sierra Leone.

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Many women here still face violence and discrimination on a daily basis.

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But I'm going to show you what some of the women in this country

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are doing to stand up for themselves and really turn their lives around.

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And I'm going to ask for your help in creating a safer

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and much fairer future for women all over the world.

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During the conflict 12 years ago,

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one particular weapon or was aimed at women - sexual violence.

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And on an appalling scale.

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It is estimated that a quarter of a million women were raped.

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One of those women is Isatu.

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During the war, rebels attacked her village and killed her husband

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and two children right in front of her eyes.

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And that was by no means the end of her ordeal.

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Isatu was held captive by her family's killers for three years

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before she escaped. By then she was pregnant

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and when the child was born she had no-one to turn to.

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But there is a charity which helps women like Isatu who find

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themselves powerless and alone.

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Womankind Worldwide is a UK-based charity that funds local

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organisations that help women who have experienced violence

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and discrimination in developing countries across the world.

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When Isatu was at her lowest point, she met a rape counsellor

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who runs a project funded by Womankind,

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and her life began to turn around.

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Good to see you. Good to see you.

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What did she say to you that made you feel different?

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Do you feel good about yourself now?

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Sierra Leone is now moving on from the legacy of the war

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but violence against women is still all too common.

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And it stems from a lack of basic equality for women.

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The most effective way to get rid of inequality is to empower women

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but, here in Sierra Leone, the odds really are stacked against women.

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It just stops them from enjoying the kind of basic

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and fundamental rights that you and I would take for granted.

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For instance, it is really difficult to get any kind of justice

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if you go to a local police station or the local courts.

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In part because too many men in this country

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still think of women as possessions.

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But I'm about to meet a woman who really did stand up

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for her rights against all the odds and she did it with

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the help of a local project which is supported by Womankind.

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'Fanta was only a child when her parents died in poverty.

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'She was left in the care of her aunt

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'but she wasn't safe there for long.'

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So what happened when you went to live with her?

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A friend brought Fanta to this project where they made her

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aware of her legal rights and convinced the police to intervene.

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She was able to leave her husband

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but bringing up her daughters as a single mother in a society like this

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was always going to be very difficult.

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Again, Womankind was able to help her gain some

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independence by supporting her to train as a tailor.

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Helping individual women like Fanta out of crisis is vital

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but Womankind know that the key to bringing about long-lasting change

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is securing equal access to the justice system.

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In rural areas, justice is administered through

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traditional systems where the local chief holds sway.

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But it tends to mean that women's rights get sidelined a bit.

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So, in another project that is being supported by Womankind,

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they are working WITH the local chiefs,

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they're changing attitudes and ensuring that women get

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a really fair hearing when it comes to settling a dispute.

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This is a community forum that is being held by the local chief.

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With the help of Womankind, he now promotes women's rights

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and allows them to air their grievances.

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One of the women who has learned about her rights

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is grandmother Musu.

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Her elderly husband died leaving Musu vulnerable to other men

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who laid claim to the land that Musu farmed.

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She lost her only means of supporting her children

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and keeping them in school.

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The charity made her aware of her rights

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and helped her to fight the case and win back her land.

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So her large family are now harvesting the crops

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that they rely on.

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What difference has it made your family having this land

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and being able to work it?

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I'm full of admiration for the women I have met here who, like Musu,

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have managed to change their desperate situations for the better,

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against great odds.

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Women who are denied justice and basic rights,

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that's a global problem.

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By donating now, you can ensure that women will be able to

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live in safety without discrimination

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through the many projects that Womankind funds with its partners.

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Not just here in Sierra Leone but all over the world.

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Please go to the website.

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That's where you can donate.

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If you don't have access to the Internet, then call.

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Telephone calls are free from most landlines but some networks

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and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

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You can also donate £10 by texting.

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Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge

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and the whole £10 goes to Womankind Worldwide.

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Full terms and conditions can be found on the website.

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Or, if you would like to post a donation,

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please make your cheque payable to Womankind Worldwide

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and send it to Freepost BBC Lifeline Appeal,

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writing Womankind Worldwide on the back of the envelope.

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And if you want the charity to claim gift aid on your donation,

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please include an e-mail or postal address

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so they can send you a gift aid form.

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Thank you.

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Angela Rippon travels to Sierra Leone in West Africa to present an appeal on behalf of Womankind Worldwide. This UK-based charity works with local organisations around the developing world to tackle violence and discrimination against women.

Angela meets women who experienced appalling sexual violence during Sierra Leone's war. And she hears how the charity is supporting projects that help women come to terms with their traumatic experiences, empowering them to become economically independent and demand their rights through the justice system.