A 5-year-old girl that was raped in Sierra Leone last year by a 28-year-old man, has been paralyzed and this has just sparked a national outrage in the in the West African country.

Reports have it that the perpetrator never faced punishment for the horrific incident, which drew outrage across the West African nation of 7.5 million and brought attention to the country’s high rate of sexual violence.

“She may never walk again, and I want vengeance for what has happened,” the girl’s grandmother told Reuters.

“The man who did this ruined her life and deserves to spend his life in prison.”

But on Thursday, President Julius Maada Bio responded to the outcry over that rape and other violent acts against young girls by declaring a national emergency.

In a speech in Freetown, he said that hundreds of incidents of sexual violence are reported each month – and that about 70 per cent of victims are younger than 15.

Many perpetrators never face justice; the BBC reported that a 56-year-old man who raped a six-year-old girl was sentenced last year to a single year in prison.

“Some of our families practice a culture of silence and indifference toward sexual violence, leaving victims even more traumatised,” Bio said.

His announcement included a pledge that all victims of sexual violence would be treated at state hospitals free, and that those guilty of sexually assaulting minors could face life in prison.

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