20 November 2012

Gambia: Hotel Workers Trained On Gender Based Violence

Hotel workers were last Saturday 17th November 2012 trained on Gender Based Violence organised by Network of Gender Against Violence. The one day training was held at the KMC Multi-purpose Hall in Kanifing.

The Program officer of the Child Protection Alliance Musu Badgie in a presentation on Gender and Gender Based Violence (GBV) described violence as any act that inflicts or causes pain or injury.

She said it can be emotionally, psychological, sexual, verbal or emotional leading to maltreatments, assault, injury amongst others. Gender Based Violence she added has a negative impact on the physical or psychological health, development and identity of a person. According to her, there are different forms of violence such as physical, sexual, economic, emotional and psychological.

Musu explained that GBV has something to do with power between two people male and female. The causes of GBV she noted amongst others are ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, obsession, tradition and culture. She stated that GBV can make one to commit suicide and can also lead to maternal mortality, fractures, permanent disabilities unintended pregnancy and many other problems that have long lasting effects on the personal wellbeing. GBV she continued is under reported in order for actions to be taken due to the fear of repercussions. She said it can also be as result of pressure from the perpetrator and family members. She added that GBV cases are considered as a family matter and lack of information on how to get assistance and redress.

Musu however noted that achievements have been made in addressing GBV such as the enactment of the Women's Act 2010, formulation of the Gender Based Violence Bill and the formulation of the National Gender and Women Empowerment Policy amongst others. She however stressed the need for the re-thinking and redesigning of all local initiatives, approaches and messages guided and informed by effective implementation of personal laws and nurturing of good cultural and traditional practices.

The Deputy Director of the Department of Social Welfare Fallu Sowe also presented a paper on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. He described Violence against women and girls as one of the most systematic and pervasive human rights violations in many countries. Sexual harassment is another form of gender based violence being experienced by many workers worldwide including The Gambia, he said.

Mr. Sowe explained Gender Based Violence as an ongoing problem that affects moral as well as productivity among employees. "Even if the employee is not the victim, knowing about an ongoing sexual harassment within the organization affects everyone," he said. Sexual harassment he noted is a form of sex discrimination and its legal definition is "unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment." He stated that once it is welcomed it can no longer be described as sexual harassment.

Mr. Sowe pointed out that sexual harassment can be verbal or written, physical, visual and non-verbal. He noted that conditions attached to sexual harassment for it to be justifiable are that the conduct of the harasser must either be severe or it must be pervasive for it to be sexual harassment. He explained that men can sexually harass women, and women can sexually harass men. However, he said statistics shows that the overwhelming majority of sexual harassment claims and charges are brought by women claiming that they were sexually harassed by men. He noted that what one can do to stop harassment is by saying "No" to the person and if the harassment doesn't stop he urged the victim to end it promptly and write a letter asking the harasser to stop and keep a copy of the letter. He also advised the victim to record all the experiences, dates, places, times and if possible witnesses.

The Social Welfare Deputy Director noted that if the victim cannot solve the problem through the internal system, the victim can then seek redress outside such as Women's Bureau, Female Lawyers Association or file a lawsuit describing it as an offence which is against the law.

For her part, a representative of the Female Lawyer's Association of The Gambia, Nguie Mboob Janneh presented a paper of the Women's Act of 2010. She said every woman has a right to live as a person and as a woman. She said women are not supposed to be psychologically tortured and should be protected from any form of violence. Anything that should harm or make women suffer should be taken care of, she said. She also added that women have every right to make decisions on how to spend their own economy.

Madam Mboob Janneh also stated that women have the right to make decisions and should be given equal opportunities as men and be treated equally without discrimination. The said Act which gave rights to women, she noted, came with responsibilities.

Commenting on maternity leave she said women are given six months to take care of their babies. She called on the women to be responsible and take care of their babies. She stated that if they are not using the six months leave for the purpose it is meant for and their departments discover that, they can write to government and complain about it and actions will be taken. She said women are well protected and thus the time for them to work harder for them to be respected and not to sleep over their rights. She also urged women to have dignity and try to be doing the right thing.

For her part, the Coordinator of Network of Gender Against Violence Haddy Mboge Barrow said Gender Based Violence can cause sexually transmitted Infections (STIs) and if not treated, it can block the fallopian tube of women thereby making the woman unable to bear children. She said sometimes injuries are also sustain in GBV such as kidney problem, loosing of an eye and many other problems which have long a lasting effect on one's health.

Officially closing the training, the Coordinator of the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) and also board member of GAT Njundu Drammeh said they will try and organise similar trainings for managers in order to ensure a conducive working environment for all workers. He stated that GBV is prevalence and according to statistics, one out of three women in the world faced GBV and it has long lasting impact on the individual.

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