By Omar Bah
Ya Kumba Nest Foundation, a respected NGO fighting against gender-based violence in the country, has challenged the government to take issues of rape very serious amid rapid surge in cases.
The foundation said the penalty for rape is life imprisonment; however, rape, including spousal rape, continues to be a widespread problem.
Survivors of sexual and other gender-based violence who go to the police often face victim blaming, stigma, and humiliation, the foundation said.
The group is particularly angered by the recent alleged rape incident in Lamin involving a 9-year-old and urged the government to respond with overdue reforms.
“Gambian women have had enough of the government’s abject failure to address repeated rape and sexual assaults. The government needs to finally make good on its empty promises and heed activists’ calls to take meaningful action to combat sexual violence and to support survivors,” the group’s chief executive director, Ya Kumba Sarr said.
The group also expressed dismay over the recent spate in rape cases in the country.
“We have particular interests in the case of the 9-year-old girl raped in Lamin by a 40-year-old man. We did approach the parents of the victim and got first-hand information and visited the Child protection department to lodge a complaint but it’s almost one month after the incident and the case is still not prosecuted,” she lamented.
The group said they understand that the accused person is still detained while the young girl’s mother has reportedly spent over D3000 on the girl’s medications in addition to the fact that she has stopped going to school since the incident as she continues to recover from her injuries.
“We are aware of the uncomfortable situation the girl is currently in and we appeal to the police high command to handle the case with all seriousness, because justice delayed is justice denied. We also appeal to the ministry of children’s affairs to double up its effort in fight against sexual violence,” the group said.
The activists also urged the Child Protection Alliance [CPA] to put pressure on government to ensure that cases of rape are taken seriously.
“At our level, we will continue to follow up the case to make sure that the victim has the justice she deserves,” they concluded.