The Network against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) has engaged the media on its planned commemoration of its 28 years campaign against violence against women, which coincides with the ‘16 days of Activism’, a global event.
The ‘16 days of activism’ initiative commences today 25th of November marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, through to 10th of December 2020, which marks Human Rights Day, symbolising the link between violence against women and human rights. The global theme is: ‘Orange the world: fund, respond, prevent, and collect’, aimed to strengthen domestic funding to enhance national response to combat sexual and gender-based violence.
Speaking at the press briefing on Tuesday, November 24th, Fallu Sowe, National Coordinator of the Network against Gender-Based Violence, stated that the campaign is aimed at harmonising their efforts to end all forms of sexual and gender-based violence in The Gambia.
‘‘These days are historic because they make us remember and pray for our fallen victims and activists on the battlefield as they could not realise their dreams; victims like an 8-year-old girl who was brutally raped and murdered three years ago; the woman who was battered to death by her husband few months ago and a 12-year-old girl who was recently sexually abused, impregnated, kidnapped and allegedly murdered by her abusers. And activists like the late Sise Janha Sawaneh and Abdou Jatta who were with us in this crusade and had always dreamt of the day we would have a Gambia free from all forms of violence against women and children,’’ he remarked.
Mr Sowe pointed out that despite after many years of prohibiting domestic and sexual violence and criminalising FGM/C and child marriage, the prevalence of these forms of violence against women and girls is still high. He referenced the GBV data collected by the Network which he said indicated an increasing number of reported sexual violence cases this year. “Out of a total number of 247 reported cases from January 2020 to October 2020 214, 87% is sexual violence case and 33(13%) are physical violence cases”.
However, he underscored the fact that sexual violence is associated with several effects and factors as it is associated with other forms of violence. “It causes serious psychological, emotional and physical effects such as post-traumatic stress disorders, gynaecological problems, injuries, infections, sexual health problems and social disputes,” he added.
The NGBV coordinator affirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has created a situation that allows for a surge in the risk of violence against women and children in The Gambia, as it is in many countries in the world. ‘‘It brought about economic and social hardships and forced people to stay at home for long hours, making them bored and stressful which can spark domestic violence. It also created room for children especially girls to be subjected to sexual abuse, child marriage, and FGM/C without the knowledge of the authorities,’’ he opined.
He expressed the commitment of the Network to make a strong case for government and other stakeholders to address the menace.
Marie Antionette Corr, Chairperson of the Network against Gender-Based Violence, informed that the 16 days activism will primarily focus on response during and post-Covid19, advocacy on the ratification of the ILO Convention C190 on prevention and safeguarding women and vulnerable people in the world of work.
‘‘The ILO Convention recommends that governments adopt laws, regulations and policies to ensure the right to equality and non-discrimination in employment and occupation including women workers and other vulnerable groups,’’ she stated. ActionAid Executive Director Omar Badjie admonished for a collective endeavour to fight against sexual and gender-based violence against women. Badjie recognised the efforts of NGBV; especially in the area of capacity building of members.
The Network against Gender-Based Violence was formed by CSOs, government institutions, and NGOs in 2009, aimed at eradicating gender-based violence against women and girls including the harmful traditional practices.