Statistics collected by the Network Against Gender-Based Violence has recorded close to 2000 cases of gender-based violence, almost half of which are rape cases within the past 5 years.
The stats were collected in only 8 state institutions including hospitals and police stations. With the exception of the Bansang Hospital, all the other institutions including the Serrekunda Hospital are within the Greater Banjul Area.
Fallu Sowe, the national coordinator of the Network, told Kerr Fatou’s Saturday Brunch show that they have recorded 1954 cases of gender-based violence from 2015 to 2019, 47% (941) of which are rape cases.
“This shows you how the issue of sexual violence is in this country… Because these stats I give are only those who reported to the 8 institutions where we collect stats. Imagine, if we had gone to all the health facilities in this country or all the police stations. 7 of the institutions where we collect stats are based in Greater Banjul Area. It is only one that is in the provinces which is Bansang Hospital,” said Sowe.
“So this gives you a clue. If we are talking about the overall stats, perhaps, we will be talking about tens of thousands of cases. And that will exclude those who suffer in silence.”
Though rape is a common occurrence in Gambia, alleged victims rarely come public with their stories for fear of stigmatization. However, recently a former Gambian beauty queen Fatou Jallow came public with allegations of rape against former president Yahya Jammeh.
Jallow’s courageous move encouraged several girls to also come public with their stories. Currently, a former head of America Affairs Division at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Melville Roberts, became a casualty of the movement.
Roberts was accused by several girls of rape and he was suspended pending inquiry into the allegations.
Sowe said Gambia’s #IamToufah movement is an encouraging sign in the fight against rape and other forms of gender-based violence. However, he encouraged victims to seek guidance before coming public with their stories.
“People coming out without being guided could face certain complications (re-traumatization). Thus, you need to be prepared. We are happy that people are coming out but we are concern about the effect that coming out could have on them…,” said Sowe.
“We have a support group for victims of GBV… If you are affected, you can go to our secretariat at Action Aid and we could help you.”
Meanwhile, since the coming out of Jallow who claimed rape allegations against former president Jammeh, several people have doubted her story.
Sowe said the narrative presented by Jallow and the influence former president wields, the rape allegation is likely credible.
He said the story of Jallow had painted a “coercive circumstances” which gave credence to the fact that rape was the likely outcome.