Date: 11th February 2014
Press Release: One Billion Rising Campaign 2014:
Theme: Rising for Justice to End Gender Based Violence
It is sixteen years ago when the Executive Director of V-Day Eve Ensler started a worldwide movement on the 14th February to highlight the various forms of violence women and girls face across race, status or geographical location when she wrote the Vagina Monologue, which gave case studies of different forms of violence on women.
V- Day is celebrated on Valentine’s Day to bring focus to all forms of violence such as rape, early marriage, battering, Female Genital Mutilation, amongst others and to contribute to the global efforts to end these atrocities in every country and community. According to the UN, 1 in 3 women is a victim of one or more forms of violence. The WHO says that violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women – are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights. Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
It is in this context that V-Day started the one billion rising campaign to present women as survivors of violence and determined to demand for justice to all forms of violence against women based on gender wherever they are situated. In a tele-conference with journalists worldwide, Eve Ensler described the 2014 One Billion Rising as “powerful revolutionary energy that is rising around the planet and the plans that the people have made in 180 countries in towns, villages and cities is astonishing. It all started with a vision of how to address the issue of I in 3 women being violated.”
V-Day Coordinator for the One Billion Rising in West Africa, Dr. Isatou Touray is on a tour in the West Africa sub region to visit Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, Senegal and the Gambia to organize and coordinate the 2014 One Billion Rising on the 14th February.
In an interview with journalists, Dr. Touray noted that the One Billion Rising Campaign started with the Zero Tolerance to FGM Day on the 6th February through media advocacy. She highlighted that FGM is wrongly associated with Islam as it continues to affect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. In her capacity as Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, a leading women’s rights organization in the campaign to end FGM in the Gambia, Dr Touray asserted how women as survivors of FGM and their communities have been empowered to realise that they can end FGM, early marriage and other forms of violence against women by rising and making public declarations marked by the dropping of the knife celebrations. Dr. Touray appreciates the support of partners who make it possible for her organization to reach out to communities and thanked the media, the radio stations in particular for disseminating the messages in the local languages to the masses.
Speaking in the area for justice to end FGM, Dr. Touray called on the Gambia government to move the gains made by the communities further by enacting a legislation to prohibit FGM. It could be recalled that a draft proposed bill to prohibit FGM has been subjected to a national consultation and submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs at the Office of the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs, the Women’s Bureau, the Justice Ministry and the office of the Ombudsman. The GAMCOTRAP Executive Director said it is justice for the voices of the communities calling for a law to end FGM to be honoured and thanked the local religious leaders in their various communities for supporting the campaign to promote the dignity of women and girl children.
The V-Day West Africa Coordinator, Dr. Touray called for political will to support the coordination of the efforts to end FGM with legislation. She concluded that Rising for justice is about showing solidarity by coming together to celebrate the courage of women survivors of violence. Dr. Touray emphasized that V-Day amplifies and support grassroots organizations and animate for mass solidarity.
The rising in the Gambia is organized by GAMCOTRAP in partnership with TANGO on Friday 14 February 2014, starting at 9 am with a street parade from the traffic lights on Kairaba Avenue along Bertil Harding Highway to TANGO head office. An open forum on ‘Rising for Justice’, the global theme for the 2014 One Billion Rising Campaign, will continue at the venue. It will bring together children, youth, women and men from all walks of life including people with disabilities, among other actors in the wider civil society as well as NGOs and development partners. The media have started rising by offering airtime and space in the newspapers for discussions and publication of articles and press releases.
Gender-based violence is prevalent in the Gambia because of a deep-seated socio-cultural beliefs and practices that inform our social, economic and political ideas, systems and relations. In our homes, work places, institutions of learning and in our communities, women and girls continue to face various forms of abuse and exploitation from their male partners, be they fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers, superiors and colleagues among others, which go unnoticed sometimes, and at times deliberate, but all the time absolutely wrong! Because of the entrenched patriarchy and misconceived Islamic teachings, both men and women are socialized to believe and practice these forms of violence against women as part of our culture and therefore normal. We are oblivious to the fact that as society, so long as we continue to marginalize, suppress and exploit one half of the population, then we are harming ourselves and retarding our progress and freedom, thus limiting our humanity. GAMCOTRAP and TANGO call on all individuals, institutions and organizations in the public, private and civil society sectors to realize and fulfill their obligation to the protection of the human rights of women and girls. This is both an individual and collective responsibility that must be fulfilled if we are to ensure a decent environment for the unfettered development and empowerment of women and girls, hence the overall advancement of our society.