Meanwhile, clan systems and local councils are operating without regard to constitutional and national law. Response mechanisms are almost entirely at the local level, and many of these avenues discourage reporting and can exacerbate violations.
Efforts to address the problem of domestic abuse should focus on educating local councils and clan leaders at the village level on constitutional and national laws regarding women’s and girls’ rights, and their entitlement to be free from violence and enjoy uninhibited access to support, including medical and legal assistance. Governments must respect their obligations to promote and protect women’s and girls’ rights as a party to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), the Additional Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Medical staff and international NGOs are also obliged to report domestic violence, and to treat anyone injured by it.
It is equally important that women have access to information about their rights, including the right to remain free from violence, and know how to put their rights into practice. As a result of the work of active NGOS promoting the rights of women and children in The Gambia, many women are increasingly alive to their rights, capacities and responsibilities. These changes are, at times, met with violence at the hands of men. Establishing meaningful and respectful dialogue with traditional leaders will be an important starting point in changing attitudes.
Domestic violence rarely goes unnoticed given the close proximity of people’s homes. Because of this, there is greater chance of intervention by neighbours, and hence rates of domestic violence are said to be lower. The process of influencing patriarchal norms so as to stop domestic violence will have to be reinforced. Strategies of advocacy to stop violence against women and to implement women’s rights need to be holistic if they are to help foster shifts in attitudes towards domestic violence.]]>