Sexual and gender-based violence is next at TRRC hearings

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has said on Thursday that its 9th session of hearings, which begins from 14th to 31st October will address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV).

The truth-seeking Commission’s secretariat said SGBV is a key part its mandate, and the session will give a platform to victims and survivors to narrate their ordeal through the severe human rights violation. “It will also promote and take measures to facilitate and support their healing process.”

The TRC Act was adopted by the National Assembly on 13 December 2017, and assented to by the President on 13 January 2018, providing for the establishment of the historical record of the nature, causes and extent of violations and abuses of human rights committed during the period July 1994 to January 2017 and to consider the granting of reparation of victims.

SGBV is any act perpetrated against a person’s will as a result of gender norms, roles and unequal power relationships within their social setting. Such unequal power relationships are exploited or abused through violence or coercion against more vulnerable persons. It can occur in physical, sexual, psychological and economic forms to express power and control over vulnerable individuals. SGBV is mainly perpetuated against women and children. However, men and boys can become victims as well.

The Commission’s secretariat also said sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence; it does not only mean rape. Sexual violence include rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, forced nudity, sex trafficking, and sexual torture. “Many victims of sexual violence get blamed, shamed and stigmatized. However, Sexual violence can never be a victim’s fault because it is an act that occurs without the person’s consent, and consent can also be withdrawn,” it said.

The TRRC proceedings which attracted a huge following among Gambians at home and abroad present a unique and unprecedented opportunity to address SGBV within the Gambian transitional justice context. It will provide victims a platform to narrate their ordeal as well as promote accountability and non-recurrence of such heinous violations.

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