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FLAG commences ToT for security outfits on gender-based violence

Jul 19, 2013, 10:36 AM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia (FLAG) with funding from the British High Commission in Banjul Thursday began a three-day training of trainers for security officers.

The training is being attended by officers from the Gambia Police Force, the Gambia Armed Forces and the Gambia Immigration Department.

Held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, the training’s opening ceremony was presided over by Attorney General and Minister of Justice Madam Amie Joof.

In her address, she told the gathering that gender-based violence in most cases, referred to simply as domestic violence, knows no boundaries in society, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or region.

According to her, domestic violence should not be an option or choice that one has to make.

More often than not, she noted, it is the women who suffer from domestic violence and these women often have children and when violence enters the home, it enters the lives of everyone there.

She added that no one is left untouched and domestic violence ruins lives, breaks up families and has lasting impact.

In most cases domestic violence is physical and during which the perpetrators will damage property when angry, push, slap, kick or choke victims, she explained.

“Sometimes weapons are used to threaten or hurt victims or force victims to leave the home or hold them hostages in the house,” she lamented.

For his part, Lt. General Ousman Badgie, chief of defence staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, said Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is both a form of discrimination and violation of the victim’s fundamental freedom and can be defined as violence directed against a person because of that person’s gender.

It is a cross-cutting issue including violence in close relationship, sexual violence, human trafficking, slavery, etc with women and girls being the main victims, he said.

GBV is a consequence of the inequalities between women and men as well as an obstacle to equality, CDS Badgie said.

Ms Neneh M.C. Cham, FLAG president, said FLAG is a non-political, non-partisan and non-profit-making organization of female lawyers in The Gambia whose aim is to promote and protect the rights of women and children.

According to her, it is one of their main objectives to lobby for gender equality in the country through legislative reforms, public education and advocacy.

“Our vision is to procure changes to the laws of The Gambia with the goal of uplifting the legal status of women and children as well as paying subscription for members and offering free legal advice and representation to poor women and children,” she said.

She added that the government had signed treaties that seek to protect the rights of women in general and against violence in particular, and nationally laws have also been enacted to ensure the protection of all, in particular the most vulnerable in society.

Acting-British High Commissioner to The Gambia George Sherriff, in his comment,revealed that with the commission funding FLAG will sensitize community and religious leaders on issues, fund litigation strategy training for FLAG members and help fund several pro-bono cases for women to take up issues of gender-based violence in the courts.

According to him, protecting and promoting the rights of women is a key policy objective of the British High Commission, as discrimination and violence affect the lives of millions of women and girls worldwide.