Thursday, October 15, 2009

Female Lawyers’ President on Laws ON Violence Against Women

The president of the Female Lawyers Association of the Gambia (FLAG), Madame Janet Sallah-Njie, said The Gambia has ratified or acceded to all the international instruments addressing gender based violence. Madam Sallah-Njie made these remarks at a recently held consultative meeting with National Assembly Members at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The consultative forum was organized by Gamcotrap to sensitize law makers to make legislation against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). However, Madame Sallah-Njie noted that there is no comprehensive legislation on violence against women as the case is in some jurisdictions. She noted that gender violence against women is of daily occurrence in the Gambia and takes physical, moral and physiological forms; that these violations include FGM, rape within and outside the marriage, sexual harassment, physical and commercial exploitation of women and girls, forced marriages, early marriage, trafficking of women and girls, assault and murder. The president of the female lawyers association admitted that although there is the absence of specific laws on violence against women there are laws which are of general application to both men and women. She contended that if such laws are applied and implemented strictly and effectively without any bias they will go a long way in addressing the issues of gender based violence and thus promote and protect the rights of women. Madame Sallah-Njie made mention of the constitution of The Gambia which, she said, gives guarantees and rights to women. She said section 28(1) and (2).of the Constitution of The Gambia specifically provides for women to be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men as well as having the right to equal treatment with men, including equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities; that section 20 and 21 generally provide for the protection from slavery and forced labour and protection from inhuman treatment, respectively.She however noted that sub section 95 (c) provides that subsection 92 shall not apply to any law in so far as that law makes provision with respect to adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law; that for the application in the case of members of a particular race or tribe of customary law with respect to any matter in the case of persons who, under that law, are subject to that law.’Madam Sallah-Njie submitted that the effect of paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (5) of section 33 is that the National Assembly can make discriminatory laws in so far as they fall in the realm of customary law like marriage, burial, devolution of property and other matters of personal law. “In other words, once it can be proven that a particular law is sanctioned by personal or customary law, it does not matter how discriminatory or harmful it is, either of itself or in its effect. This provision renders nugatory all the innovative provisions in the constitution,” said the president of the female Lawyers association of the Gambia.

source: foroyaa news paper

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.