Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Female Lawyers, Teachers Hold Training On Violence Against Women

Minister Fatou Lamin Faye

Lawyers are mostly busy running after their cases from one courtroom to another, from lower to higher courts.
But the female members of this legal profession in the Gambia have manifested that they are also concerned about the violence perpetrated on the vulnerable women and girls in society. 
Their grouping called The Gambia Female Lawyers Association, shorten FLAG, in collaboration with the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU), early August, 2011 held a day’s Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop at the Paradise Suites Hotel.

The theme was  “Ending Violence in Society with Special Focus on Women and Girls.”  
 The Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs. Fatou Lamin Faye, in opening the workshop said the Government of the Gambia remains committed to alleviating the suffering of all vulnerable groups in society, particularly women and children.
She said in 2010, the National Assembly of The Gambia made a history by enacting the women’s Act, which seeks to domesticate all the international Conventions relating to the promotion, protection and enforcement of the rights of women. 
 In order to support this resolution, sectoral policies have been promulgated to create safe and supportive environments for girls and women, Madam Faye told the audience.
 She referred to the current Education Policy 2004-2015, which provides a frame of reference to support the Education of girls in the areas of access, retention and performance. This emphasizes the need to curb gender-based violence in and around schools.  
The minister told the gathering that using teachers as principal actors of change in this campaign is by no means accidental.  
Reason: This is because teachers of this country are the strongest medium of socialization.
She finally exhorted participants to measure up to expectations so that in concert, they would end, once and for all, gender-based violence in the country.  
The President of FLAG, Lawyer Mrs. Janet R. Sallah-Njie, speaking on the occasion, recalled that in the past, they (FLAG) visited schools to talk to young children about the impact and consequences of intolerance and violence, and try to instill in them positive values of mutual respect and dignity of the person irrespective of sex.  
Their reasons are: to raise awareness and sensitize the younger generation, end the stereotypical idea about women and girls; and empower the students to stand up and “say no to violence”.
The female lawyer said the training is intended to train more teachers across the country to be aware of issues of violence against women and girls, so that they could in turn pass on the message to the younger generation.
She, however, lamented that despite all the legal provisions in place, violence continues to be perpetrated against women and girls.
The Barrister and Solicitor went on to add that the culture of silence, nurtured and encouraged by patriarchy, “reinforces this perception and makes enforcement and implementation of laws extremely difficult; thus the need to raise awareness so as to instill a culture of tolerance and non-violence, ensure that perpetrators are accountable for their actions”.  
She echoed that violence against women is the most pervasive yet, least recognized human rights abuse in the world.
She charged that every woman should be protected against any form of physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, suffering, or violence whether occurring in public or private life.
In her statement, the Secretary General of GTU, Madam Marie Antoinette Corr-Jack said across the world, the double burden of being female and young relegates millions of girls to the margins of society where “unseen and unheard”, their rights are disregarded and their safety is denied. 
The female educationist said violence against girls is not only a direct infringement of human rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but it also plays a role in denying girls the right to education by being one of the major causes of drop-out among girls.  
Where the school environment or the road to school are not safe, where girls are in danger of being raped, sexually assaulted, abused, and sexually harassed, then they, most likely, will not continue their education, she pointedly cautioned.
She rounded off her remarks by crediting the famous Nelson Mandela, former South African President who so aptly put – ‘safety and security don’t just happen, they are a result of collective consensus and public investment; we owe our children the most vulnerable citizens in any society a life free from violence and fear’.
Mrs. Fatou Bom Bensouda, the Gambian-born Deputy Prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court better called ICC, chaired the ceremony.
  Also in attendance were judges, magistrates, the United States Ambassador in Banjul, President and members of GTU.

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