Source: Daily Observer

Women councilors across the country were recently trained on the Women’s Act 2010, Domestic Violence Act 2013 and Sexual Offences Act 2013.


The Network for Gender Based Violence (NGBV) organised the two-day training,  attended by the deputy mayor of Banjul; representatives from Women’s Bureau; Child Protection Alliance; Flag, among other notable institutions on women’s and children affairs.


Addressing scores of councilors, Binta Sidibeh, executive director of Women’s Bureau expressed delight at the training session. She informed the participants that the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defined Gender-Based Violence as “any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.


She said since the declaration, gender-based violence has become an umbrella term for any harm that is perpetrated against a person’s will. “Gender-based violence programmes should be survivor-centred as there is a need to ensure the safety of the survivors, confidentiality, and as well have respect for survivors and his/her right,” Women’s Bureau boss noted. 


She said information campaigns and advocacy can help to raise awareness of the issues, through discussions in the community, reduce stigma, encourage survivors to report incidents and seek care.


Executive director Sidibeh added that effective campaigns against gender-based violence should involve men to promote reflection on cultural attitudes and gender inequities that perpetuate violence against women. 


According to her, the greatest among the problems that enhance GBV is the culture of silence, which she said, cultural taboos and fear of reprisal may prevent survivors of sexual violence from talking about it outside their own families, even to doctors and nurses. 


Therefore, she said, development of laws and protocols ensuring the protection of survivors are an important foundation for encouraging survivors to come forward to receive care they need. 


Noting that training for health workers, the police, social workers and justice personnel are critical to help them respond sensitively and appropriately to GBV’s survivors, she said,  the government of The Gambia has expedited the harmonisation of the CEDAW and enacted the Women’s Act 2010, which provides for the protection of women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence in private or public spheres. 


She then urged the councilors to use their position and influence in the various communities and municipalities, to change their attitudes, practices and influence decisions that engender gender-based violence in the communities.


The Women’s Bureau executive director implored on them to be sure that decisions taken in their communities and by their councils are always gender sensitive. She assured them that at the Women’s Bureau, in their own part they will continue to support the cause for women empowerment and protection of women’s rights in The Gambia.


On behalf of the Women of The Gambia; the government of The Gambia, under the able and dynamic leadership of President Jammeh, she applauded the laudable initiative of the Network Against Gender Based Violence in the crusade to salvage women and children from the scourge of gender-based violence.

Author: Yunus S Saliu
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