Gambia Creates Helpline for Swift Gender Based Violence Queries
A partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare and Paradise Foundation, through its Tahawou Jigueen project, have created a toll-free line where victims or witnesses of the gender-based violence offences can report cases for swift interventions.
“The enactment of the legislation prohibiting Child Marriage, FGM and other forms of GBV are highest on our priorities and today we launch the National GBV Helpline a solid tool that will help the government and its stakeholders in its efforts to combat gender-based violence and support survivors,” the country’s Women, Children and Social Welfare Minister, Fatou Kinteh said at the launching on Tuesday.
She said The Gambia made commitments to protect the rights of women and girls by ratifying and adopting the international and regional instruments such as CEDAW, Beijing Platform, United Nations Resolution on Women, Peace and Security among others.
“Similarly, by translating into action the commitments The Gambia made in adopting these international and regional women’s rights instruments, several legislation have been put in place, these includes the Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Women’s Amendment Act and the Children’s Amendment.”
The first lady of The Gambia, Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, said the helpline services will help survivors to recover from trauma they experienced and help them integrate into their normal lives.
“Establishment of the National GBV Helpline is quite timely, coming at a time when we are experiencing an unprecedented increase in GBV cases,” she admitted.
According to First Lady, Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow, there is an increase in domestic violence including sexual and gender-based violence in the country as a result of COVID-19 stay at home order.
“Therefore, the helpline will respond to the needs of survivors of violence such as rape, intimate partner violence, assault, among others.”
The launch of the National GBV Helpline has coincided with the observance of the State of World Population Report, a flagship annual event of UNFPA that showcases population trends as well as highlights factors affecting the well-being of the world’s population, while calling for action to address the challenges.
The UNFPA Resident Representative Kunle Adeniyi said The Gambia has registered some significant progress on ending harmful practices against women and children, but urges more efforts to be done.
“It’s our responsibility to critically engage our communities, our families and friends. We must increase our efforts to change minds by tapping the root causes of these harmful practices.”
“Every year, millions of girls are subjected to practices that harm them physically, emotionally and sadly with the full knowledge or sometimes consent of their parent’s families, friends and communities.”
The theme for 2020 is ‘against my will: defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality,’ show the prevalent practices such as FGM, Child Marriage etc.
Omar Faye is a reporter with Choice FM Radio and Freelancing for the Chronicle. He’s currently studying Journalism and Communication at the Media Academy for Journalism and Communication (MAJaC).