Banjul, Gambia – Officials of Gambia’s Department of Social Welfare, under the Ministry of Health, said it recorded close to 376 cases of domestic violence, including violence against children and women, paternity and custody cases between January and October, 2012.
Fanta Bai Secka, Director, Department of Social Welfare, said statistics showed that there were 127 cases against mothers; 87 cases against mothers and children; 16 against children; 10 cases involving children in forced or early marriages, physical abuse, homelessness, school fees; paternity dispute 36; and custody dispute 100.
Secka unveiled the statistics to journalists at a press briefing Tuesday on the “World Day of Prayer and Action for Children 2012”, being marked Wednesday.
As part of activities for the Day, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Gambia’s Department of Social Welfare, in partnership with the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (SIC), the Gambia Christian Council and the Child Protection Alliance (CPA), will be holding “a panel discussion on Gambia TV and a synchronised nationwide prayer in mosques on Friday, 24 November, and in churches on Sunday, 26 November.
Ending this year, the three-year global theme “Stop Violence against Children” has been localised as “Let’s Stop Violence and Sexual Abuse against Children Now”.
Secka said the Gambian Government is committed to protecting children against violence and abuse as stated in the country’s constitution and the ratification of major international instruments relating to children.
“The Gambia has an obligation to ensure that the rights of children are respected, protected, promoted and fulfilled,” she stressed.
Violence against children takes many forms – from sexual abuse and exploitation, sex tourism, corporal punishment, to female genital mutilation, according to Ms. Aichatou Diawara Flambert, the UNICEF Country Representative to Gambia.
A world day of prayer and action for children, an initiative set in motion by the faith-based organisation, Arigatou International, was adopted by UNICEF in 2009 during the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
It is a concept in line with the CRC and the MDGs, and most importantly, it is guided by religious principles and traditions.
It seeks to bring together people from different religious background and goodwill to pray for and safeguard the integrity, rights and dignity of children.
It also seeks to promote their survival, development, protection and well being.