Saturday, April 1

“Gambian women are all-round victims,” says Kembujeh women’s group

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The leader of an influential women’s community group in Kembujeh Madina, West Coast Region has told the Never Again Network that Gambian women are all-round victims of the Jammeh dictatorship and therefore say never again to dictatorship and human rights violations in this country. During a lively engagement with the Network at Kembujeh Madina on Tuesday, 14th February, Fatou Camara, leader and spokesperson for the Kembujeh Toolay Kafo, an association of traditional female healers, negotiators, peace makers and dramatists (Kanyeleng) said women bore the brunt of human rights violations that occurred under the Jammeh dictatorship and do not want to see their children killed or forcefully disappeared again.

“Women are the mothers of all and therefore women are all-round victims. Whenever a man is arrested, detained or tortured, women are victims; whenever a man is forcefully disappeared or killed, women are victims; whenever a man is sent into exile, women are victims. Women are victims in all instances of human rights violations, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, on behalf of all Gambian women, we are saying never again to all the bad things that happened here under Yahya Jammeh,” Mrs. Camara forcefully declared. She and other speakers from her group said they support the work of the Never Again Network and Pa Modou Bojang’s program, Mengbe Kering on Home Digital FM radio in our struggle for the truth and against human rights violations and a return to dictatorship. The women performed several songs and a short drama on enforced disappearances showcasing the plight of mothers, wives, sisters and daughters whose relatives are still missing.

For their part, members of the Never Again Network team engaged the women and other members of the Kembujeh Madina community in conversation on the rationale and work of the Network and how best to build a just, peaceful and healthy society. Among the issues discussed were the scope and nature of human rights violations that occurred under the ousted dictatorship, the proper nature of government-public relations, the limits of state authority, the duties and responsibilities of citizens, and why everyone should respect human rights and the rule of law, and say no to any abuse of public authority anywhere.

A trained lawyer and member of the Never Again Network team led the gathering in a rich review and discussion of the bad laws that remain in our law books six years after the fall of the Jammeh dictatorship. Starting with a description of the qualities of a good law, the Network stressed to the gathering that the law is not to be left to anyone’s discretion, that all are equal before the law, that the law demands respect for human rights, and that every citizen has certain inalienable rights, including the right to life, freedom of expression and association, and freedom from torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

The Network pointed out to the gathering that some of the bad laws promulgated by the Jammeh dictatorship and used to violate the rights of the Gambian people are still in our law books. These include the NIA Act, the Public Order Act, the Indemnity Amendment Act, and Section 8 of the Criminal Code, all of which are contrary to the democratic aspirations of the Gambian people and our vision for a free and democratic society. The Network called on the Gambia government to remove these bad laws from our books and urged the women’s group and wider Kembujeh and Gambian community to do whatever they can to advocate for the removal of these bad laws from our books.

The Network’s engagement with the Kembujeh Madina Toolay Kafo included a story telling episode and discussion on proper mother-daughter relations by Network team members. This segment of the engagement was in line with the Network’s strategy on building social cohesion and promoting unity, mutual respect and mutual love among Gambians.