Freetown, Baby!

Tifman by jc2010sl
February 18, 2011, 4:29 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was sat in the office yesterday when suddenly a clamour rose from the streets outside. My colleagues rushed to the window crying “Tifman!” in excited tones. “What’s going on?” I asked Santos, the office messenger. “They’ve caught a thief” he said, pointing down. Straining to see I spotted a gang of men beating a figure huddled in their midst. “What will the police do?” I naively asked. “Look, here they come!” someone said. Predictably enough I suppose the officer joined the fray, and after a minute or so the presumed perpetrator was hauled from the ruck, his shirt ripped to pieces. “What will happen next?” I asked. “Well if there is evidence the police will arrest and charge him.” I can only wonder what constitutes “evidence”.

At the roadside where the beating happened there is a public information poster. The mix of Krio grammar and western legalese are a sure sign that it’s sponsored by an NGO: “Sexual Harrassment nar crime”. Beneath the caption is a picture of a man beating his wife and the question “If you don’t stop him who will?” A laudable message no doubt, and domestic violence is certainly a problem in Sierra Leone. I wonder though if perceptions on the acceptability of particular acts of violence can be changed without a more general shift in perceptions that violence isn’t the way to resolve disputes.


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