To celebrate International Women’s Day Dateline’s Amos Roberts travels to Sierra Leone to meet a woman who’s set up the Aminata Maternal Foundation, which aims to improve conditions for women to give birth and raise children in unsafe conditions.
“When I was kidnapped, really bad things happened to me,” says Aminata Conteh-Biger, a former sex slave during Sierra Leone’s civil war who escaped to Australia as a refugee.
“For five years I didn’t really talk to people, I would go home and stay in my bedroom. Nobody wants to live like that… Even though I was in my new country, I was still kidnapped by them,” she adds.
Coming to Australia as a teenager, she kept her past a secret. Afraid and unsure of what others would think.
Although she can’t change the past, she’s ready to help the future of her homeland of Sierra Leone, which has become the world’s most dangerous place to give birth.
After experiencing complications during her first pregnancy in Australia, Aminata believes her daughter would not have survived if she was in her homeland.
Women in Sierra Leone are almost 250 times more likely to die in childbirth than Australian women.
Diseases such as cholera, scabies and malaria are common, as well as girls’ victim of neglect and abuse put many risks on their maternal health.
Aminata tells Dateline’s Amos Roberts she wants to find out why Sierra Leone is the most dangerous country in the world for a woman to have a baby and how she can improve this.
“What happened to me, I can’t go and change it, but this is something that I can change. I can be part of that change,” Aminata tells Dateline.
Tuesday 7 March at 9.30pm on SBS.