By Lamin Jahateh
The Gambia government has formulated two bills that will impose harsher penalties and severe punishments for domestic violence and sexual offences particularly rape.
The formulation of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences bills 2012 both of which are being discuss at the cabinet and the National Assembly is geared toward addressing violence against women and girls.
In her televised statement on Wednesday aired over the state television ahead of the International Women’s Day on 8 March, Gambia’s Vice President, Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy said the main purposes of both bills is to combat domestic violence, provide protection for the victims of domestic violence and to amend related laws and procedures related to the trial of rape and other sexual offences.
The international theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘The gender agenda: gaining momentum’, but the vice president said Gambia’s theme for the celebration is ‘The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women’s and girls’.
She noted that the local theme is relevant and timely as many studies had reveled that gender based violence is real and widespread phenomenon in many countries within and among all social groupings and geographical locations as well.
“Cognizance to the devastating effects of the violence on the health, social as well economical advancement of women and girls and its consequences on the national economy at large, series of international conventions, protocols and agreements had been ratified by The Gambia government,” she said.
She said various national laws and policies are developed to ensure effective gender mainstreaming and the protection of women and girls and their rights.
She pointed out that The Gambia government has set up broad based mechanism for addressing violence against women and girls through domestication of international conventions such as Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the protocol of the African Charter on Humans and Peoples Right on the Right of Women in Africa as well as the Beijing Platform of Action.
The vice president claimed that The Gambia has also fulfilled its obligation on the implementation of the CEDAW and other international and regional conventions and treaties such as the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, African Women’s Decade 2010 – 2020.