By Mariama Marong
Mrs Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Welfare has revealed to this medium that the Gambia Government will establish special courts to deal with gender-based violence cases and bring perpetrators to justice.
She made this remark during the launch of the UNFPA Digital Platform at Bakoteh for reporting cases of gender-based violence.
The Gambia’s judiciary system is marred with prolonged trials owing to an archaic recording system and long adjournments. Gender-based violence cases, like all other cases last for years in the courts.
According to the Minister, establishing GBV special courts will fast-track cases relating to the resolution of gender-based offences in courts. “The establishment of GBV Special Courts is to prosecute perpetrators for timely hearing of cases,” she said.
She revealed that the establishment of a court to hear GBV cases and testing labs for matters of rape will be fully funded by UN bodies and the EU, adding that such courts will timely hear matters of rape, assault, domestic violence, sexual violence, economic violence, harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation/ cutting.
Madam Kinteh said it is important to prosecute perpetrators of violence as it is the only way to eradicate gender-based violence in Gambian society.
She said people need to report cases of rape and other sexual violence that occur in communities, schools and workplaces.
The minister frowns that victims hardly get justice when cases are withdrawn after they are reported to the police or courts.
“Now any rape case that is reported will be a case of the government and not victims,” she warned.
She lamented that essential evidence of gender-based violence, mostly rape, is destroyed before reaching the rightful authorities.
“Victims should not wash or clean when rape occurs until they are checked by the right authorities, this washing and cleaning of victims lead to destruction of evidence,” she said.
According to Kinteh, making alterations on a victim of gender-based violence is tantamount to cleansing the evidence, positing that victims should be taken to the right place with the right authorities to do what is necessary.
Mr FalluSowe of the Network of Gender-Based Violence said the establishment of the Special Courts and lab will lead to the successful prosecution of perpetrators. He said the lack of Special Courts has delayed the prosecution of some GBV cases, but the establishment of the said court, will fast-track cases and also help in the eradication of GBV.
Mr Sowe reiterated that rape cases are against the state and perpetrators and victims have no other authority to withdraw the case when it reaches the courts.
He called on all to be vigilant in matters of FGM and GBV because everyone has the right to speak and nobody should be violated.