Youth Alliance The Gambia in partnership with African Women Development Fund on Thursday 13th December 2012 held a-day long activity at Gambia College in Brikama.
According to officials, the theme of this year's campaign, 'From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women!', highlights the role militarism plays in perpetuating violence against women and girls.
The activity attracts hundreds of college students and other dignitaries from various institutions who embraced the activity.
Speaking at the gathering, Mr. Joe Bongay said this is part of bringing to fore the struggles of women and that the Youth Alliance The Gambia joined the rest of the world to mark the 16th Days of Activism on Violence Against Women, observed every year on the 25th November to 10th December. This, he said, was necessary because of the disadvantages women face due to the disproportionate distribution of resources and gender roles in society.
He said according to the UN the majority of the world's 1.5 billion who live on less than one dollar a day are women and they constitute victims/survivors of violence both in the domestic and public spheres, adding that violence against women, including rape, incest and battering amongst others continue to reoccur.
Gender based violence, said Mr. Bongay, is a universal reality existing in all societies regardless of economic status, class, culture or any other diversity. He said this problem is too common and is mainly due to the very patriarchal nature of the society and obnoxious cultural beliefs, which suppress women and leaves them to suffer in silence.
He also cited that these inhumane acts have continued to prevent women from achieving their maximum potentials and compromise their physical and psychological integrity.
Youth Alliance The Gambia, he said, is pleased to co-organize this event to bring attention to an issue that does not receive the attention it critically needs and that is 'violence against women and girls'.
Martha Gomez outlined the types of gender based violence which she mentioned as follows; physical violence, psychological violence, emotional violence, verbal abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence. She added that women are partners in development at all levels as they are coordinators of any activity in our homes where the foundation of every human being begin and yet they are not recognized.
Madam Gomez explained that the 16 days of activism against gender violence is an international campaign. Participants chose the dates November 25 as International Day against Violence against Women, and December 10 as International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.
She said the 16-day's Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels, strengthening local work around violence against women, and establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women.
She added "In our homes every day, many a times women and girls are subjected to harassment and other forms of domestic violence because girls are less protected and have little access to justice or to decision-making processes."
The 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign, said Gomez, is a United Nations incentive, adding that the South African government upholds the campaign which also includes issues relating to violence against children.
For her part, Madam Therese Cardos defined gender based violence as act of exerting or inflicting violence either internal or external to human beings, adding that it has many forms, ranging from sexual violence, rape; sexual assault includes various forms of sexual violence against women. Indecent assault: date rape, stranger rape, mental rape, statutory rape, incest, etc.
She also dwelt on issues such as sexual harassment, physical and spiritual violence as well as the knowledge of how on how to treat your girlfriend or wife, the effects of GBV on the society among others.
Other speakers included the Pastor Chibuweze and Oustaz Sillah Drammeh both of whom dilated on the religious perspective of Gender Based Violence.