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‘SGBV undermines health, dignity, security of survivors’

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By Olimatou Coker

Ms. Seraphine Wakana, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, has said Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) undermines the health, dignity, security, and autonomy of its survivors, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence.

UN Resident Coordinator made these remarks recently during the SGBV documentary premiere organized by Network Against Gender Based Violence and its numerous partners held at OIC.

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The sexual and gender-based violence documentary is exploring the role of the justice system in enhancing access to justice and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence offenses in The Gambia.

“Although SGBV is perpetrated against both men and women, women and girls are most affected due to the power imbalance in our communities and the socio-cultural and religious norms and practices that undermine their dignity and wellbeing.”

She added that these documentary showcases work done by the government and civil society in the Gambia in partnership with the UN, to raise awareness of SGBV, strengthen service delivery to survivors and chart a way forward for combating SGBV across the Gambia.

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“This documentary is a component of ‘strengthening rule of law and enhancing justice and security derive delivery in The Gambia.’ The documentary highlights the cases of SGBV and what stakeholders are doing in terms of putting structures and mechanisms, as well as viewing the gaps, and challenges around sexual and gender-based violence. Everyone, young girls and women have the right to live their life without the threat of violence  and this holds for all people, no matter what their gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity, or caste and irrespective of their income level.”

According to Ms. Wakana, sexual and gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world with studies estimating that 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime.

Jonna Mendy, of NGBV, said sexual and gender-based violence is a very important topic as it affects everyone, “so we know that  violence itself is a public health problem and it affects each and every one of us.”

She added that this launching is a very important one, “as it brings out some of the challenges that we are faced with as case workers on SGBV.”

Gibril Lowe, Deputy Permanent Security Ministry of Interior, said the government of the Gambia March 2020 start the implementation of a comprehensive jointed rule of law project in partnership with its numerous partners entitled to strengthening community access to justice, community policing, effective sexual and gender-based violence response rule of law project.

“As part of the support to these projects the gender and child welfare unit of The Gambia has numerous assistant in helping to boost the capacity of personal for effective handling of SGBV causes, additionally  the Gambia police force has initiated community policing strategies and other community outreach programs across the country as part of measures to combat SGBV through the support from UN partners, bearing in mind that SGBV remains widespread in the Gambia due to multiple factors including the lack of adequate of law enforcement  agencies contributing to bad law of cases .”

Fallu Sowe, the National Coordinator of NGBV, said cases of SGBV are increasing currently they are more reported cases of SGBV in The Gambia, especially sexual violence.

Hussein Thomai, Solicitor General from the Ministry of Justice, said: “A lot has been done in the preparation of this document which is very comprehensive. This documentary is a very useful tool and all the relevant stakeholders should ensure that it is disseminated across the length and breadth of the country.

“The Government will not relent in its quest to fight and eliminate SGBV in The Gambia”.

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