By Ndey Sowe

Jankoba Jabbi, Director at the Department of Social Welfare, has said their aspiration for Gambian children is for every child to grow in a peaceful family setting, and be educated and healthy in every aspect of their physical and mental lives. Jabbi made this disclosure on the 11th of February 2019, at the launching of ‘‘Together We Can Save Our Girls’’ program, at the KMC Conference Hall.

On the protection of girls against violence, Jabbi said this can only be achieved with the cooperation of relevant professionals within Government departments, civil society and the community as a whole; that through education, empowerment and protection of girls, they can change the mind-set of people to be positively involved in the agenda of gender equality and girl’s empowerment for sustainable development.

Jabbi informed that in the Gambia, many have attained access to education than ever before, given that maternal mortality has reduced greatly and Government has broken grounds in the fight against child marriage in 2016; that this was legislated to ban the practice.

He noted the fact that millions of children make their way through life impoverished, abandoned, neglected, malnourished, uneducated and vulnerable; that this has been a daily struggle for the survival of some, whether in developed or undeveloped countries.

Jabbi continued that these vulnerable people are excluded from essential services such as hospitals and Schools, and lack the protection of their families and communities; that often, learning, playing and feeling safe is in effect, meaningless for them. Jabbi said the protection of these rights for children, can be done through collective responsibility, to ensure that every child enjoys growing up during their childhood; that this is the time to nurture and develop their knowledge and skills, in order to contribute to nation building.

The Social Welfare Director expressed his department’s commitment to continue their support in providing temporal placement for abused children and those at risk of abuse, including abandoned babies, survivors of gender based violence (GBV), and those who cannot stay with their families for a certain period of time.

“We provide psychosocial support and counselling to survivors of gender based violence,’’ he said; that they work closely with the network against gender based violence that comprises social workers, the Police, child welfare officers, the Ministry of Justice’s child rights unit, health personnel and FLAG. All this is geared towards the protection of children, most especially the girl child”.

He said sustainable development can only be achieved if people change their attitudes and ensure that it is not business as usual, by breaking the culture of silence.

State Counsel Ella R. Daigan, dilated that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice to prosecute matters of gender based violence; that such offences are rampant and are also on the increase; that as a result, the sexual and gender based violence Act is to aid rape victims and ensure that violators are punished.

Lamin Fatty Program Officer at Child Protection Alliance, said civil society participation in protecting the rights of children, plays a fundamental role in complimenting Government’s efforts; that there are numerous cases of young girls being victimized on a daily basis, and that there is need for commitment and collaborative effort to ensure violence against young girls is stopped.

Fatty said children are the future leaders of tomorrow and there is need to protect them at all cost saying girls form a greater percentage of children. He cautioned people to be vigilant in protecting society to plunge into anarchy.

The founder of ‘‘Together We Can Save Our Girls’’ Ousainatou Jallow, described how the organization came into existence; that the organization has been legally registered to fight against violations against girls and to ensure their wellbeing and protection.

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