Gambia: 'Police Investigation Frustrate Victims' Gender Activist Told TRRC

Haddy Mboge, an activist against sexual and gender based violence and a women's rights activist has told the TRRC that the police style of investigation frustrate victims.

Mboge appeared on Tuesday, 15th October 2019 before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) as the third witness in the 9th session which will primarily focus on sexual and gender based violence.

She said they are faced with the challenge of having a gender welfare unit at the police stations where victims will feel comfortable to explain their ordeal. She said police investigation take longer time before prosecution of the alleged perpetrator. She added that the delay of prosecution of the alleged perpetrators often frustrates victims, and the cases are usually struck out of the courts. She said the police take years to investigate cases of GBV which according to her is frustrating. She recommended that there should be adequate funding to the security sectors particularly the police gender and welfare unit to enable them do their work effectively.

She said the police gender and welfare offices aren't properly placed.

"Our stations are not gender friendly. We need to work towards police stations that are gender friendly. We need to have proper labs and DNA tests with well equip forensic experts to identify rape cases, listening to our religious leaders is our therapy in The Gambia," she said.

The 61 - year - old witness is the founded the Network against Gender Based Violence with the aim of eradicating women on gender based violence (GBV) in the Gambia.

She said GBV starts immediately after birth because the society stigmatizes female babies preferring their male counterpart over them. She GBV includes female genital mutilation, child marriage, incest and physical violence among others.

She said in 2014 ninety two (92) sexual violence was recorded, including 69% of them as children adding that the youngest victim was an 18 months baby. She said the 18 month baby was examined and the doctors discovered semen on her. She added the alleged perpetrator was apprehended.

"Most of the victims of sexual and gender based violence are children," she said, adding that the common cases were rape and defilement.

She said there are under reported cases because of the 'culture of silence.' She said the culture of silence is deeply rooted in the country leading to escalating rape cases.

She said the impact of GBV is huge on the victims and their families. She said there are instances where the victim will be rejected by their families. She said the impact include dropping out of school, psychological effects, stigmatization among others.

She said there should be a hotline that victims could use to call for support which will be free of cost. She said the government should make it mandatory for all institutions and the private sector to have a policy on GBV. She said the victims should be supported in terms of their education, payment of their legal fees, among others.

The witness has also worked for the Gambia Family Planning Association from January 1999 to January 2009. She also worked for the National Aids Secretariat.

She recommended government to create subventions to victims of gender base violence.

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