By Binta A Bah
14 February globally, is valentine day; a day when lovers renew their love, commitment but this year women and men in The Gambia will rise together in the largest day of mass action ever to rise for justice.
Children, youth, women and men from all walks of life including people with disabilities, are joining the global determination to end the multiple violence’s, a globally coordinated campaign aimed to call to an end of violence against women and girls, according to GAMCOTRAP, a leading women’s rights organization in the country.
Thousands of One Billion Rising for Justice Events will take place throughout the world. These events are organized and produced by local activists. It’s the day of synchronized action when one billion people in 207 countries will rise for justice.
BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, work places, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.
It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.
“Rising for justice is about showing solidarity by coming together to celebrate the courage of women survivors of violence,” Dr. Isatou Touray V-day Coordinator for the One Billion Rising in West Africa said.
Ahead of the rising for justice in The Gambia, Dr Touray called for political will to support the coordination of the efforts to end FGM with legislation to prohibit the practice.
There is no specific law banning FGM in The Gambia even though a draft proposed bill to prohibit FGM has been subjected to a national consultation and submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at the Office of the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs, the Women’s Bureau, the Justice Ministry and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“It is justice for the voices of the communities calling for a law to end FGM to be honored” Touray said.
V-day is founded by Eve Ensler, a journalist and writer for 15 years and is celebrated on Valentine’s Day to bring focus to all forms of violence such as rape, early marriage, battering, Female Genital Mutilation, amongst others and to contribute to the global efforts to end these atrocities in every country and community.
“Powerful revolutionary energy that is rising around the planet and the plans that the people have made in 180 countries in towns, villages and cities is astonishing. It all started with a vision of how to address the issue of 1 in 3 women being violated.” Ensler said.
Gamcotrap is a women’s rights NGO working in the area of women and girls and to stop harmful practices that affect the lives and circumstances of women and girls in the Gambia. They have been very active and effective in stopping FGM
In 2013 GAMCOTRAP joined others in the world to observer the one billion rising in Lower River Region of the country, where hundreds of women, men and children rose to end violence against women.