Saturday, May 15

Impact of Covid-19 on sexual violence

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By Olimatou Coker

Series of cases have been reported and registered on sexual violence (on the most vulnerable people which are women and children) as a result of the covid-19 impact in various communities.

Speaking in a Standard exclusive, Falu Sowe, the Coordinator of Network Against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) revealed some of the issues that caused the sexual violence cases in 2020 and the total number of cases reported so far.

Mr. Sowe said Serrekunda general hospital is one of their one-stop centers that recorded one of the highest numbers of cases of sexual violence in The Gambia in 2020.

“There are many reasons that caused sexual violence during the pandemic especially in the Gambian environment. One of the factors was the locked down which also exposed children to people who are perpetrators of violence in their homes and communities because they were no more going to school. They were all along at home and within the communities so they can easily fall to this perpetrator. Most Gambians are not also very aware of the threat that certain people can be to their children, so they leave their children to loiter around especially when they were not going to school. They used them to sell things in the street which is another reason that could expose them”, he explained.

Coordinator Sowe further said that during the lock down many people lost their job and did not have much money at the home level with poor families and their children becoming more vulnerable to violence, especially sexual violence because people with money could use that to get them in and be able to sexually abuse them.

According to him, from the data they collected in their one-step centers from most of the regions in the country, they have seen an increase in the number of cases of sexual violence recorded in 2020 which is very alarming.

He pointed out that in 2020 they registered a total number of 243 sexual violence cases compared to 217 in 2019 which is very alarming. He attributed the rise partly to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted that through statics they have learned that 151 of the cases are all recorded within the Greater Banjul Area which means Banjul, KM, and WCR.

“KM has the highest number of cases of sexual violence recorded in 2020 which is 83 cases, followed by WRC 52 cases. 77% of cases recorded are children below the age of 17 years. He findings also showed that a lot of children were at risk of sexual violence in 2020 which is the years in which the pandemic hit The Gambia”.

In addition to the sexual violence cases, Sowe said other forms of violence against children were also perpetuated.

A victim who spoke to our reporter on condition of anonymity said she was threatened by the perpetrator that he will kill her if she doesn’t comply with him and rape her

“I was raped by a man in my community and a few weeks later, I start experiencing strange feelings in my system. When I was taken to the hospital, the doctor confirmed that am pregnant which I didn’t like. I felt like killing myself because at this stage am not prepared for pregnancy as I want to focus on my education”.

Dr Babading Daffeh of Kanifing General Hospital described sexual violence as alarming in The Gambia.

Dr. Daffeh said the victims of sexual violence suffer from so many psychological effects.

“They suffer from physical traumas like depression or even panic attack, unwanted pregnancy and infections”.

He also added that SGBV is not only sexual violence but has domestic violence, economic violence, and trafficking as well as new dimension, FGM, unwanted pregnancy, early and forced marriages.

Dr. Daffeh called on the public especially parents to be vigilant with their children and protect them at all times.

He also advised government to find more resources to combat the issues of sexual violence in the country because the number is really alarming.

“We need to come together and fight the rights of women and girls because they are very vulnerable and should be protected. The law should take its course so that perpetrators can face the law”.

He stated that through their research they came out with a solution to the program which is services for DNA for these victims because the DNA will help the court to determine this case very easily.

The Gambia’s Ministry of Health confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Tuesday, March 17. The individual is a 21-year-old who traveled from the UK on Saturday, March 14, and had transited through Morocco before arriving in Gambia on Sunday, March 15. Subsequently on Monday, March 16, the individual developed a fever and presented herself to Gambia’s Medical Research Council.

As a precautionary measure, Gambian President Adama Barrow announced on Tuesday, March 17, that all schools, including universities, will be closed from Wednesday, March 18, for 21 days. Additionally, all public gatherings, including open markets will be suspended immediately for three weeks. All overseas travel by public officials will also be canceled to prevent further spread of the virus. Meanwhile, Gambia’s land borders with Senegal continues to remain open as of Tuesday, March 17.

Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.

If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

Total in Gambia

Last update on: 2021-04-27 6:13:5

Cases: 5, 857

Deaths: 173

Recovered: 5,284

Active: 400

Cases Today: n/A

Deaths Today: n/A

Critical: 3

Cases per million: 2,3

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