Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As Women Offenders Deserve Punishment, Duty Bearers Told TO Executive Powers

Despite all the legal provisions in The Gambia, violence against women continues to be perpetrated against women and girls in the country, and other parts of the world says Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia, FLAG President Jamet Sallah- Njie.
FLAG boss was addressing a good number of teachers who are targeted to be trainers on violence.

Thus, the need to raise awareness, so as to instill a culture of tolerance and non-violence ensure that perpetrators are accountable for their deeds and actions.
She adds: “ duty bearers and gate keepers who are part and parcel of the Criminal Justice system in The Gambia should take full charge and responsibility to discharge their mandates so as to punish offenders.
“Punishing offenders, will deter others from engaging in such cowardly and demanding acts of inflicting violence against women and girls,” she positioned.
 Based on the societal and cultural perception of the subjugated status of women, violence against women and girls continues.
The culture of silence nurtured and encouraged by patriarachy, reinforces this perception and makes enforcement and implementation of the laws extremely difficult.
Sometimes, the criminal justice system also makes it difficult or discourages victims form enforcing their rights, Janet- Njie disclosed. 
She expressed concerned about the increased violation against women and girls saying that it is hard that a day goes without crime against women or without a media report of some gruesome, outrageous, and heinous act committed against women, girl or groups of women and girls.
This, she said happens in both peace times and in a war torn countries adding that this menace takes a different dimension during conflict situation.
In a conflict situation, Janet- Njie told her audience that women are actually used as spoils of war and violence against women and girls in the form of mass rapes and other unthinkable sexual violations are used to subjugate the enemy.
The jurisprudence of the international criminal tribunal is replete with trails of cases of rape as an act genocide and crime against humanity.
Therefore FLAG hopes to see and ensure violence free harmful traditional practices.
The harmful traditional practices, she said include child marriage and betrothal adding that such practices that affect the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of a child, and those prejudicial to their health and life, or discriminatory against them on the grounds of sex, are also prohibited, she says.
Again, she explained that “changing cultural behaviours and attitudes can be very tredious and time consuming, as habits, especially bad ones do die very hard.”
Quoting section 6 of the Gambia constitution on Women’s Act, reads “ Every woman shall be protected against any form of physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, suffering or violence whether occuring in public or private life.”
Furthermore, “as far as the girl child is concerned, the Children’s Act 2005 has comprehensive provisions which seek to protect the rights of children.”
Such protections, she noted have range from protection from exploitation behaviour, sexual abuse among other forms of abuses and exploitations.
Violence against women is the most pervasive, but yet, least recognised human rights abuse in the world, she said.
It is also a profound health problem, sapping women’s energy, compromising their physical health, and eroding their self-esteem.
Again, she said that despite its high cost, almost every society in the world has social institutions that legitimise, obscure and denied abuse. The same acts that would be punished if directed at an employer, a neighbour or an acquaintance often go unchallenged when men direct them at women, especially within the family.
She called on all to work together to compliment each other’s efforts to alleviate the plight of vulnerable women and children, thus contributing to the development of the nation (The Gambia) and beyond, FLAG head concluded.

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