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FLAG trains members in Litigating Gender Violence cases

Nov 29, 2013, 10:02 AM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

Female Lawyers Association of the Gambia on Friday organized a two-day training for its members on litigating gender-based violence cases in The Gambia, a programme sponsored by the British High Commission and held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.

Speaking on the occasion, Mabel Agyemang, Chief Justice of The Gambia, said gender-based violence seems to be on the increase everywhere.

Whether in the home or in the street, whether it emanates from professions of love or the desire to control or sometimes even to punish, it achieves one thing which is, it kills.

She said there indeed have been instances when women have died through beatings or other physical hurts, or sometimes rape and other sexual forms of violence.

She added that physical death is only a small percentage of the death produced by such violence, the death of the spirit, the death of dreams and aspirations for a happy existence, the death of self worth, the death of healthy emotions which are replaced by hopelessness and despair, and the death of a healthy childhood for children of homes where there is domestic violence is the more common occurrence.

She also said rape, whether in a home, among family and friends, by strangers in the street has become a weapon of control and a statement of superiority and dominance.

She said many victims have lost faith in their worth as human beings because of such acts perpetrated against them.

Indeed many studies have shown that many women who have been raped have turned to prostitution as a way of getting their back on a world where victims of violence suffer reproach.

She stated that law enforcement officers have been known to turn away a battered wife complainant by gently informing her that family matters must be settled at home.

She said child victims of rape and defilement have sometimes borne the brunt of a society unwilling to take blame, adding that few of such victims are able or willing after public condemnation to get their story out much less to pursue justice against the perpetrators.

Madam Agyemang also said that FLAG has become the voice of many cowering in fear and reproach, unable or unwilling to speak out. They have also become a trumpet raising a battle sound that strikes fear into the hearts of perpetrators and would-be offenders.

For her part, Neneh MC Cham, FLAG president, said litigation simply means the process seeking redress through the courts.

She said the courts are often considered as the last resort for many aggrieved persons, whether one is complaining of being wronged or seeking to enforce a right guaranteed to him or her by the laws of this country.

She said it is sad reality that often many women walk into their legal aid clinic and complain of some form of violence against them but unfortunately almost all of them end up withdrawing their cases for one reason or the other.

 She said they believe the only way they can contribute towards reversing this particular trend is to be fully informed themselves on GBV as well as all avenues for seeking redress for victims and also bringing perpetrators to book to be able to in turn educate through their awareness raising and advocacy programmes.

For his part, George Sheriff, deputy British High Commissioner, said they have a partnership with the Government of The Gambia, and FLAG is a good example of how this partnership works.

He urged FLAG to keep up the good initiative, whilst promising them of continued partnership.