The revelations at the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on sexual violence should be a wakeup call to both the Government of the Gambia and society to do something to regulate and have strict laws to protect girls and women from unscrupulous men.
Sexual violence is one of the most heinous crimes one can ever commit against a girl or a woman. The damage done to a girl or woman who happens to be a victim of sexual violence may even prevent her from ever bearing children.
Thus, sexual violence is – or should be considered – a crime against humanity and should be treated as such.
When the word genocide is used, everyone is appalled at the evil of those who commit it. Well, sexual violence is as bad, or worse.
The intricate way in which society is formed makes it a little difficult to fight against this evil. Firstly, sexual violence is most often committed by family members or family friends or people in power or authority as can be deduced from the terrible things being testified to at the TRRC.
The ‘Maslaha’ syndrome and ‘Ndoagi Yallah la’ plays a huge role in entrenching this evil. The archaic belief of ‘Ndogali Yallah la’ breeds the culture of silence due to stigma and sometimes resignation from the fact that not much can be done.
For the fight against sexual violence to be successful, there is a need to attack the root of the problem. This will show that the first obstacle against the prosecution of suspected perpetrators is the interference of the family members.
Thus laws which are intended not only to punish the perpetrator of sexual violence but also their accomplices must be formulated.
Girls are the fruit trees that bear the future of a nation. The progress of a society can be measured by observing how well (or otherwise) it treats its women. A society that turns a blind eye to violations of its women and girls is a doomed society which is bound to be destroyed sooner rather than later.