#Article (Archive)

Don't Punish All to Protect the Few

Aug 5, 2008, 6:26 AM

Anyone concerned about civil liberties will be very disheartened at recent developments in Kerewan which has seen a time restriction of 1am introduced by the village elders. The move, we are told, is meant to restrict the movement of people in order to tackle pregnancy out of wedlock. Everyone would agree that the issue of pregnancy outside of wedlock is one that should be tackled but these draconian measures are not the way to go about it. What happens in the case of an emergency if somebody has to go to another part of the village to seek help? Will these people be punished simply because they find themselves in a time of crisis? Who will decide if a person has a good enough excuse to be out after 1am? Kerewan is a part of The Gambia and cannot simply introduce these kinds of restrictions willy nilly. They must adhere to the laws of the land which allow the free movement of people whatever the time, day or night. The other aspect of the pregnancy issue is that girls can get pregnant during daylight hours also. Has a major study been carried out that shows girls were only falling in the family way after 1am and before seven in the morning?

These kinds of sweeping, draconian measures generally prove to be ineffective and only serve to infringe the rights of the people of the area.

Should parents not take responsibility for their daughter's chastity? It is not the job of the state to ensure that young girls are not falling pregnant outside the bounds of conjugal union by restricting the freedom of movement of the rest of the population. It most certainly is not the job of village elders or self appointed judges to make these kinds of decisions. The human rights of those who have been arrested are being violated by those who arrested them and they should be immediately released without charge.

There are a number of solutions if there is indeed a problem with pregnancies in the area. Girls must be better educated to make informed choices about what kinds of activities they engage in. Boys should also be taught the basics about the reproductive functions of the human body and the responsibility that comes with having a baby. If this education is provided then all young people can be informed about the consequences of their actions and not make silly mistakes that can infringe on the life they might wish to have for themselves in the future.

We on the continent of Africa have fought too long and hard for our freedom for us to stand idly by while and unelected group of people in any area try to take it from those who live there. We must cherish and protect civil liberties and personal freedom as highly as we prize the chastity of our sons and daughters.

"The love of freedom is the love of other; the love of power is the love of ourselves."

William Hazlitt