Violence against women is considered as one of the obstacles to the advancement of women and it is an abuse of human rights, says the resident coordinator of the United Nations System in The Gambia, Madam Chinwe M. Dike.
She made the remark on Tuesday during a programme to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
Madam Dike disclosed that most countries have signed and ratified the International Convention for the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), the Protocol to the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. "However, in spite of these provisions, women and girls are still subject to abuse," she stated.
The UN boss further stated that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is yet an additional and dangerous form of violence inflicted on girls, adding that it is sometimes as a rite of passage but not always. She lamented that in some societies babies as young as seven days old undergo FGM, while some women are forced to undergo FGM when they marry into cultures which have adopted these practices, resulting in serious health problems for the individual.
"These health programmes are recommended as part of efforts to eliminate these customs. Sexual harassment is yet another form of violence. These are unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature," Madam Dike stressed.
She underlined different forms of violence against women such as; physical and psychological forms among others, marinating that it is a general agreed view that violence against women, physical or psychological, has profound implications for a woman's health and empowerment.
"A battered woman who has suffered bodily harm cannot participate in various activities. A young girl who is forced to marry an older man of a different generation will be faced with continuous adjustments due to the mismatch in age which may impede her opportunities for development," she pointed out.
Madam Dike said the UN respects the human rights of all individuals especially women and girls and therefore, engages a wide range of actors to respond to issues that violate these rights. She added that these are the various ways in which the different UN agencies work with governments, NGOs and the media to address cases of Violence Against Women.
She informed the gathering that in The Gambia, UNFPA supports awareness creation on Violence Against Women, ranging from its consequences for socio-economic development to capacity building of the security forces for the proper management of these cases as well as creation of a data base on Violence Against Women and the provision of reproductive health kits for victims during humanitarian crisis.
"Both UNFPA and UNDP support the development and enactment of parliamentary bills for the elimination of Violence Against Women," she said, while outlining other functions of other UN bodies in this struggle.