Aminata Conteh-Biger will never forget the look in her father’s eyes when she returned to her family, broken and traumatised, after being held for four months as a sex-slave in her native Sierra Leone. “He was almost scared of looking at me,” she said in an SBS Dateline special that aired last night. “He was scared because he knew I’d been hurt and he didn’t protect me.”
But Aminata’s father had been powerless to protect his daughter, as so many people are powerless in Sierra Leone to protect themselves and their loved ones from the brutalities of war.
“Seeing people’s hands chopped, that was very common,” Aminata recalls of the horrors of that time.
Now resettled in Australia and with a daughter of her own, the program followed Aminata back to Sierra Leone where she’s working to improve maternal and infant mortality.
Sierra Leone has one of the highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rates in the world. In the slums of Kroo Town, a part of the capital Freetown, the average life expectancy for women is just 36.
Aminata has launched a foundation which aims to support pregnant women and girls in Sierra Leone, some as young as 12. Her story is one of magnificent bravery. On International Women’s Day, stories like Aminata’s must be told and told again until all women can live in safety, health and free from violence.
Watch more of Aminata's story here.