By Olimatou Coker
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative, The Gambia has recorded 91 gender-based violence cases in January alone. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a Gender Information Management System Centre (GIMS) at Bakoteh, the UNFPA country rep, Ms Ndeye Rose Sarr said out of the 91 cases, 30 rape, 23 sexual assault, 18 physical violence, 2 early/forced marriages and 18 intimate partner violence cases were recorded. According to the UNFPA, the GIMS centre aims to address the challenges women face in reporting gender-based violence cases.
“The centre will build a strong evidence base on gender-based violence, and promote a safe, confidential and convenient way of reporting cases. The system-focused platform supports the digital reporting of cases through an anonymous website at any time within The Gambia,” she said.
The diplomat said gender-based violence is a serious violation of human rights and can potentially inflict different forms of harm including physical, psychological, sexual and economic.
“It undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its survivors but yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence as survivors continue to suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections such as HIV and even death. It is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world with studies showing that one in every 3 women worldwide experience some form of physical or sexual abuse,” she stated.
She said though about 51 percent of the country’s population are female, there is a strong patriarchal social structure reflected in the customs and traditions of the country leading to the high rates of harmful cultural practices such as FGM and child marriage.
“I appealed to the government, civic society and partners to continue their commitment towards ending gender-based violence in The Gambia. This GIMS centre presents a unique opportunity to not only collate relevant data on GBV in the country but deliver critical and life-saving services to survivors of GBV in a dignified manner,” she said.
The UNFPA, she added, is committed to supporting the government and people of The Gambia to create a safer society where women and girls are protected from violence and empowered to live safe and dignified lives.