2019 theme: “Orange the world: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”
The TRRC stands with women and girls all around the world to commemorate the international day for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. The day is particularly important as it highlights the plights of women and girls who continue to suffer sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in their homes, schools, work places, communities, institutions, amongst others.
This year’s theme is “Orange the world: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”. Rape is a form of sexual violence that occurs when one individual does not consent to sexual penetration however slight. It is an uncomfortable subject that is not always discussed particularly in our side of the world.
This theme resonates with the TRRC’s commitment to SGBV which we have been hearing since the beginning of our hearings and in particular our immediate past thematic hearing. Within our Gambian context, whilst we’ve heard about sexual violations against women and men, the evidence we’ve heard and the information we’ve received suggest that women and girls are the majority of victims and survivors.
At the TRRC, we are particularly pleased that our session on SGBV has started a conversation on these issues. We however note with concern that victims are not always forthcoming with information on SGBV for fear of being victim blamed and shamed and the stigma that follows.
Notwithstanding, the TRRC commits its resolve to continue to thoroughly investigate issues of SGBV and make constructive recommendations to promote gender parity, ensure our homes, schools, work places, institutions and communities are safe spaces for women and men, girls and boys.
We applaud the women that came forward to share their stories with the Commission. Whilst investigations are still ongoing to identify the scope and extent of these violations, we continue to call on individuals with information on SGBV violations, victims of SGBV violations as well as perpetrators who are willing to share their stories with the Commission to submit a statement to the Commission to help the Commission in its mandate of creating a historical and impartial record of human rights violations that happened in The Gambia between July 1994 and January 2017.
The TRRC wishes to remind and assure everyone that the TRRC is a safe space for everyone, and witnesses not willing to testify publicly have other options available to them (testifying with protective measures as anonymous witnesses or in closed session without cameras). Our psychosocial unit is also available to provide support to all witnesses before, during and after their testimonies.
The TRRC strongly condemns all forms of violations and injustice against women and girls, men and boys and would not tolerate victim shaming and harassment.
To all the victims and survivors of SGBV particularly rape, we assure you that all issues of SGBV will be addressed with utmost sensitivity to put an end to impunity.
25 November 2019
Statement read by Anna Jones