The ECOWAS Resident Representative in The Gambia, Ms. Vabah Gayflor, calls on the Gambian government to prioritize addressing violence, especially against women and children, in the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts.
Ms. Vabah Gayflor was speaking in a multi-stakeholder gathering on Monday amid discussions on the rising cases of Child and Gender-based violence in The Gambia.
She recounted the prevailing realities on violence against women and children in The Gambia, despite the political commitment and government efforts. “While the government of the Gambia and other relevant stakeholders have implemented policies and National Legislations, the security and humanitarian situation in the country is worsening. As a result, more women and children are currently being affected by the height of the pandemic crises,” Ms. Vabah Gayflor said.
According to her, The Gambia needs strong and enforceable legal policy and institutional frameworks appropriately resourced and staffed with guaranteed accountability for the authorities responsible for keeping citizens, especially women and children, safe.
She also urged that for victims to have access to child and gender-sensitive justice, the government should ensure that proactive and sustainable prevention systems are available in the country.
Gayflor also highlighted that while political engagement in the Gambia will remain essential, human rights expectations are high, and budgetary constraints continue to challenge.
“As COVID-19 cases continue to strain both the health and other essential services, we are very much aware that the Government is dealing with budget constraints due to the huge economic impact of the pandemic,” she said.
Therefore, she said, “The government needs to prioritize addressing violence against human rights in the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts”.
Victims mostly affected by these devastating human rights violations are women and children, said
The Gambia’s Minister of Gender, Children, and Social welfare, Fatou Kinteh, told the gathering that “The Network against Gender-based violence in the Gambia have recently recorded 251 GBV reported cases. Out of these cases, 240 fall under women and children“. She highlighted that most of the documented cases of sexual violence are associated mainly with Household Heads’ refusal to meet their responsibilities.
The attorney general and minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow, agrees that despite efforts by the government in ensuring effective protection of the rights of women and children, there are still important issues to tackle. Such matters the government could address include ensuring that the rights of women and children, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups are fully met.
“Issues such as the domestication of regional and international instruments and implementation of such laws; support to institutions engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights, increase the capacity of law enforcement officials, the judiciary and national assembly members are some areas identified for improvement,” the minister said.