Stakeholders observe majority of Sections in Sexual offences Bill need adjustment

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Women empowerment and protection stakeholders have observed some inconsistencies  in the draft 2019 women amendment bill, suggesting that majority of the section need to be adjusted.

The National Assembly select committee on health, women, disaster, humanitarian relief and refugees, Wednesday commenced a consultative meeting with key stakeholders on the draft bill which ended on Thursday at the National Assembly building in Banjul.

Enacted by the president and the National Assembly, the Bill targets to review, amend and repeal all legislative provisions found to be discriminatory against women and girls in The Gambia in furtherance of the country’s international obligations and in line with the constitution and for connected matters.

Chairperson of the select committee on health, women and children, Ousman Sillah said the government want the bill to be amended to become the main women protection law in The Gambia.

”This committee shall consider and take evidence of the provisions of the bill and report its opinion on behalf of the Assembly and any sub-committee shall have power to recommend amendments,” he said.

Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Lala Jaiteh noted that the 2013 sexual offences Act was enacted to amend the law and procedure relating to the trial of rape and other sexual offences. She said the Act gives a broader definition of the offence of rape and increased the circumstances under which a person may be charged with the offence of rape.

She said her ministry strongly agrees that the present criminal justice system results to a re-victimisation of rape victims who are subjected to vigorous and merciless cross examination in courts, saying amending that section is relevant and timely.

“In recognition of the best practice all over the world, the ministry calls for a balance between the constitutional guaranteed right of due process for the accused and the protection of innocent victims of rape.”

Corporal Saikou Bojang of Gambia Police Force said they always counsel doctors to examine victims in rape cases and where it is confirmed that the hymen is not touched, it will be recorded as attempted rape.

Story written by Amie Faye

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