Witness Says Rape and Defilement Are Most Common Sexual Violence in The Gambia

By Ousman A. Marong

Haddy Mboge-Barrow, former auditor at Child Protection Alliance (CPA), also a member of Gambia Family Planning and Social Welfare (GFPSW) has informed the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) that the most common recorded sexual violence cases in The Gambia are rape and defilement.

“The youngest victim of sexual violence registered was 18 months old. We found semen on the baby which indicated that even if the penetration did not happen one knew that something had happened around the child’s valve,” she explained.

According to Mrs. Mboge-Barrow, the concept of laissez-faire attitude in our country is destroying the fabric of our society. Men having sex with men is contributing in the decline of our society,” she stated.

The witness slammed the cultural belief of parents that immodest dress could be a contributing factor leading to rape and defilement, adding that even female adults and men can be raped.

She said the culture of silence is deep rooted in the country that leads to escalating rape cases.

She revealed that 88 per cent of rape cases have so far been recorded between the years 2000 and 2018.  

She cited a case where a boy impregnated a girl and the parents negotiated to arrange for the boy to marry the girl without which they believe would cause big shame to the family.

“Our police stations are not gender friendly. We need to work towards ensuring that police stations are gender friendly. We need to have proper laboratories for DNA tests with well equip forensic experts to identify rape cases. Listening to our religious leader is our therapy in The Gambia,” the witness intimated.

Recommendation
The witness recommended thorough education in the reform against Gender Base Violence (GBV).

She said there should be funding to the police and child protection unit.

“Our child protection unit of the police should be enhanced as a separate and uncompromised body,” she said.

She challenged the University of The Gambia to partner with these agencies so as to set up programs on social work.

She further challenged the present government to come up with budget plan for the Network Against Gender Base Violence.

In her final remarks, she hailed the TRRC for their tireless efforts in ensuring that justice prevails in the county, calling on government to create subventions for victims of gender base violence.

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