By Omar Bah
The national coordinator of the Network Against Gender-Based Violence has revealed that 1,576 cases of gender-based violence of which 647 (41%) are sexual violence were recorded in The Gambia from 2014 to 2017.
Ms Haddy Mboge said this data was collected from reported cases at the Kanifing, Edward Francis Small Teaching, and Bansang hospitals, the Department of Social Welfare, and the police.
She said the youngest victim was an 18-month-old child.
Ms Mboge made this revelation yesterday at the Atlantic Hotel as the Justice Ministry launched a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Unit.
Mboge, who revealed that at 12 she became a victim of early marriage, said after going through a difficult childhood, she dedicated her life to fighting traditional harmful practices affecting girls and women.
“Despite all the successes, we are facing challenges at the network and the biggest challenge is the issue of reporting on time. We know that when there is sexual violence, most of the time before people report to the facilities, it is already late. But even if they report on time, we have challenges as to whether our hospitals are well-equipped to give us the required evidence that we need,” she queried.
The unit comprises 10 people from the Justice Ministry, 2 from the Police Prosecution Unit, 1 from the Department of Social Welfare and 2 from the Police Gender Unit.
Meanwhile, in his launching remarks, Vice President and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ousainu Darboe said: “It is common knowledge that acts of sexual and gender-based violence are under or mostly unreported and that women and children are the most vulnerable in our societies.
“The need for their targeted protection is therefore unquestionable. We must acknowledge that sexual and gender-based violence remain a problem in our communities despite government’s best efforts in creating appropriate legislations and policies to combat this menace,” he noted.
The Government of The Gambia, he added, after the ratification of all relevant international and regional treaties for the elimination of all forms of discriminations against women, “has enacted national laws in line with its obligations for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.”