The Network against Gender Based Violence in The Gambia in collaboration with ActionAid and other organisations is commemorating 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. The day, which is marked globally every year, is an international campaign which runs between 25 November and 10 December. It symbolically links violence against women and human rights. The global theme for the campaign is the same as that of last year: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women. It focuses on militarism as a creation and normalisation of a culture of fear that is supported by the use or threat of violence, aggression, as well as military intervention in response to political and social disputes or to enforce economic and political interests.
In The Gambia, reports of cases of both early and forced marriage and sexual violence as well as their consequences have been increasing. The Network Against Gender Based Violence (NGBV), realised this and has therefore identified a local theme for this year’s celebration: Multi-sectoral Approach in Ending Child Marriage and Sexual Violence.
“Girls marrying below the age of 18 often results in not only an end to their educational aspirations but can also result in early pregnancy and social isolation”, says Omar Badji, the executive director of ActionAid.
Despite the fact that The Gambia has laws and policies that seek to address harmful traditional and social practices that violate the fundamental human rights of girls that limit them from attaining their fullest potentials, the practice of child marriage persists.
In addition, sexual violence is a violation of the fundamental right of women and girl’s to determine their choice of sexual preferences. This act, could lead to difficult traumatic psychological, social and health challenges that impact their lives.
The network has made tremendous strides towards supporting survivors of gender based violence. These include the training of lawyers, social workers, police and health officers, community sensitisation programmes for religious leaders, the establishment of “One-Stop Centre” at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, the development of guidelines for the Management of Gender Based Violence and the formation of the He for She Campaign Youth Platform comprising different youth organisation.
Various activities have been planned to mark the 16 Days campaign. At national level the campaign was launched yesterday at the KMC ground. There will be radio and television programmes, a Big Noise Procession which includes a march-past, speeches from government, NGO representatives, handing-over of clinical and psycho-social guidelines to the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, handing-over of furniture and office equipment to the Chief Medical Director EFSTH for the One-stop Centre and launching of Ambassadors Against Gender-Based Violence.
The highlight of the event is a nationwide caravan tour which will be led by the He for She Campaign Youth Platform. They will travel across the country advocating for equality, justice and freedom for women and men, girls and boys. The caravan will sensitise and engage communities on gender based violence issues targeting young people, women, community leaders and local government authorities. The caravan will use sporting activities, music and entertainment, film shows and big noise processions to attract public attention and disseminate messages on gender based violence through speeches and IEC materials.]]>