Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2020:
The Gambia has announced plans to launch a national ‘NO MORE’ campaign against domestic and sexual violence.
Fatou Kinteh, Gambian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Children and Social Welfare, joined the Commonwealth Secretary-General in Banjul when she made her commitment on Human Rights Day.
When launched next year, ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ campaign will aim to tackle domestic and sexual violence, while creating long-term prevention measures to eliminate abuse.
The Gambian national chapter will be part of the global ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ movement and will support national efforts to achieve the sustainable development goal for gender equality.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who is currently in The Gambia on an official visit, said: “With the pandemic triggering an alarming rise in cases of domestic and sexual violence, the announcement signifies The Gambia’s strong commitment to ending this scourge.
“The abuse, far too often, is hidden and is regarded as a private matter, trapping victims in shame and persuading bystanders to turn a blind eye.
“So it is critical to put the spotlight on this hidden pandemic to send a clear message to victims that help is available while engaging everyone in the society to play their role in addressing domestic and sexual violence.”
She said the campaign would be of vital importance to every Gambian, particularly more than 60 per cent of the citizens under the age of 30.
“We need to make sure their future is not like our past. Together with Minister Kinteh, we are saying NO MORE violence because if we do not have peace in our homes, we will never have peace in the world,” the Secretary-General said.
In The Gambia, around one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, similar to the global prevalence rate. The abuse remains largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma and fear.
Minister Kinteh said: “Ending gender-based violence is everyone’s business. The Gambia is a patriarchal society. We want to make sure all efforts are being made to sensitise every citizen on the human rights of women.
“The Gambia is joining the Commonwealth in saying NO MORE to gender-based violence. Early next year, we will bring together partners and communities to launch ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ campaign.”
Addressing Gambian women through media, she said: “You must no longer suffer in silence. You can get help. Voice your complaint and seek support – respectfully and confidentially.”
The Minister highlighted that her government has embarked on a raft of initiatives to protect women and girls, including a new Domestic Violence Act, a national helpline and gender-sensitive support services.
NO MORE Global Executive Director Pamela Zaballa said: “The NO MORE Foundation is excited to support the development of ‘The Gambia Says NO MORE’ and to be part of their commitment to ending violence against women and girls.
“We are assured that the partnership supported by the Secretary-General and Minister Fatou Kinteh will develop into a strong and resilient chapter.
“We look forward to working in partnership and ending violence against women and girls in The Gambia.”
Moving forward, The Secretariat and NO MORE Foundation will work together with the Ministry to develop and deliver the campaign.
The enigmatic Human Rights Activist Malcom X once declared; “So early in my life I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.” Priceless advice indeed for all those shy, and timid-minded women desperately looking for ways to improve their circumstances and change their dispositions. My advice to women is to shrug off doubt, fear and complacency and MAKE SOME NOISE as Malcom said. Whenever a woman suffers sexual or physical abuse at the hands of men, she should refuse to suffer discreetly in silence but instead bravely get other women involved and they should make loud complaints publicly, protest, create a ruckus and bring everything on that day to a complete standstill until their voices have been heard and their grievances have been amicably settled. Forget the stigma of shame that is attached to rape and other forms of sexual violence.
Be brave, let the world know you have been sexually violated and humiliated. Anything less will not suffice in a society like our own where the predatory sexual tendencies of men are not frowned upon but praised and encouraged as the truest and most authentic signs of ones virility and manliness. I always ask women – Do you really want lasting change? Then grab it like a matador’s bull bravely by the horns and face its struggle, stand firm because it will not fall gently on her stubborn knees in submission without a long and hard fight.
Listen all those slogans “NO MORE” and “ENOUGH is ENOUGH” and ‘EQUALITY FOR ALL” are all very nice and inspiring to the discerning ear but they are just empty words without any substance – words that’s all they are, that are totally meaningless to an imprudent Male chauvinist already brainwashed with fixed social beliefs and attitudes about male superiority. I think its time for women’s rights groups to re-examine their priorities and strategies for they don’t seem to be working effectively in order for them to enact the change they have been yearning and longing for; The ever-continuing creation of unworkable laws that just cannot be robustly enforced has been one of the biggest setback to women’s rights, this needs to change before any form of real gains, sustainable progress can be attained.
Yeah. The idea that the the Minister of Gender of the Gambia was given the opportunity to carry out her duties as Minister of Gender affairs of the Gambia, makes me feel good. It is not the proxy business of the First Lady of any country to carry out the duties of the Gender Minister or any other Minister as was the case in Sierra Leone. The First Lady of the Gambia, Mrs Fotoumata Barrow is very intelligent, charismatic, compassionate, courageous, decent, capable, considerate, amiable, courteous, empathetic and of course diligent. She knows what to do and not to do as First Lady and wife of a responsible President of a country. I hope First Ladies in other countries will follow the example of the First Lady, Mrs Fatoumata Barrow of the Gambia. God bless the First Lady of the Gambia, Mrs Fatoumata Barrow. What is wrong with that?