By Omar Bah
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Fatou Kinteh, has advised parents to avoid cleaning up victims of rape before they report to police.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday at a press briefing on the state of gender-based violence in The Gambia held at the Gender Management Information System, GMIS, in Bakoteh, Minister Kinteh said when victims of rape are cleaned up the police find it very difficult to collect evidence to prosecute their cases.
“When it comes to rape, parents are encouraged not to clean up the victims because that is the only evidence we have to prove a case. I appeal to all to adhere to this advice. Rape is a serious crime and government wants to take a tougher action to ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted,” she said.
She assured that moving forward if any rape or gender-based violence case is reported to her ministry or the police and they are able to lay hands on the victim, that case will not be withdrawn.
“That is the only way we can ensure that people abide by the rules and the constitution. We must not allow these perpetrators to continue to abuse these children unpunished,” she said.
Minister Kinteh said government is not happy that they are unable to prosecute cases of GBV.
She said it is important that the GMIS centre is replicated to other regions to ensure that the fight against GBV reaches all corners of the country. “We are encouraging all victims to come out and report their cases without being worried about their identities being disclosed because the data collection is highly confidential,” she noted.
She said the ministry of gender will continue to prioritise sensitisation on GBV issues and how to report cases when there is a violation for immediate action.
“We have just presented the GBV policy in cabinet two weeks ago and there were few comments which have been incorporated,” she disclosed.
She said one of the clauses in that policy is dealing with how to protect people with disabilities from gender-based violence.
She said parents will be educated to identify when their child has been violated and the importance of the timely reporting of cases especially when they involve children.
Fallu Sowe, the National Coordinator Network Against Gender-Based Violence said his network is doing a lot of engagement with government institutions to encourage the prosecution of GBV cases.