Expert witness blames gov’t, others for contributing to right violations

Friday, October 18, 2019

(Wednesday 16th October 2019 Issue)

Haddy Mboge-Barrow, a victim of child marriage who testified before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Tuesday, has blamed the government of The Gambia for contributing to the right violations of victims, saying they violated the 2013 Domestic Violence Act.

Born in Niamina Dankunku, Mrs Mboge-Barrow stated that the Security Sector Reform (SSR) should touch on education, law enforcement and to institutionalize policies, adding that heads of the security agencies should come out clearly if they are part of any gender based violation.

Mrs Mboge-Barrow who graduated as community health nurse, with a Diploma in Integrated role and development, and gender and development, explained that police stations are not gender friendly and victims are not treated well.

She said when some adults are raped and they go to the police station to report, some of the officers will not believe it and will tell them that no one can rape an adult. She said nurses and police do not understand how to handle victims of sexual violations.

According to her, some cases are reported where a father rapes his biological daughter, saying the culture of silence is contributing to more cases of gender-based violations. “The one-stop center for victims of sexual violation should also look at means in developing and protecting victims of sexual violation.”

According to Mrs Mboge-Barrow, when a case is reported to the police, it will take them several years before acting on it, adding that the prosecution of gender-based violence also delays the case sometime, which discourages victims, leading to the withdrawal of the case.

A one-time coordinator of the Network Against Gender-based Violence, who also worked at The Gambia Family Planning Association on sexual and reproductive health and right, highlighted that in The Gambia, gender-based violence starts from the day a woman gives birth.

She said when a woman is delivered of a girl, some people will be saying why she didn’t bring a boy. “FGM, sexual and child marriage are also another form of violence.”

The witness, who established the Network Against Gender-based Violence in 2019, said they started the work in 2010, saying the aims and objectives are to minimize or eradicate gender-based violence through sensitization.

She however indicated that the data on sexual violence in 2014 totaled 92, adding that 23 were adults and 69 were children and the youngest was 18 months.

She recommended for the University of The Gambia to introduce a degree in social work and challenged them to be researching and giving feedbacks on concrete evidence of gender-based violation.

Author: Pa Modou Cham