‘Any Man Who Beats a Woman Has Given Up His Right to Be Call a Man’

Amb. Pamela White
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I couldn’t help ruminating about the plight of ‘womankind’ when the United States Ambassador to the Gambia, Pamela White emphasizes that men who have beaten up their wives for whatever reason does not deserve to be called men, for they has given up their right to be called men.
Women battering is invariably a manifestation of a deep rooted culture of intolerance and disregard for human dignity. Violence committed in the private sphere like the home should no longer be regarded as a private personal matter to be resolved at home, but as an act that requires the attention of the community and society.
Here in The Gambia violence is pervasive, and as a result many women continue to suffer in the home and in the community with devastating effects.
Physical violence means a woman has been slapped, or had something thrown at her; pushed shoved, or had hair pulled; hit with a fist or something else that could hurt; choked or burnt; threatened with or had a weapon used against her.
Ambassador white was quoted as saying, “Any man who beats a woman has given up his right to be call a man,” during a day capacity building for teachers on violence against women organized by the Female Lawyers of the Gambia (FLAG), at the paradise suites hotel.
Though there is no available data on women battering in The Gambia but majority of them (Gambian women) have been beaten just because they are women or view as less superior and voiceless, taken as an advantage.
The abuse of women is usually seen as a right by many men, and even who are vulnerable to such abuse. It’s wonder for humans to lost sight of the natural fact that rights of the women are God given rights, by the virtue of being born like any human being. However, women bear the brunt of such violence in the name of their children, and blessing to be rewarded by Allah.
Even though the Women’s Act provides that every woman is entitled to respect for the dignity of her person, and that no woman should be subjected to torture or inhuman treatment or punishment. It is obvious that this stipulation is not being enforced in The Gambia. Even though with applaud of women being empowered; there are still sacks of communities, in both the urban and rural areas, where women are being beaten and unnecessarily trashed.
Laws cannot serve any useful purpose unless they are effectively implemented. But here in The Gambia, the realities on the ground are a far cry from the aspirations of the female folk. For the fear of being disowned or regarded as a ‘devilish’ woman, she would rather moan in her chest that chambers her broken heart and die in silence than reveal the most unbearable ordeals of her life or seek for justice.
Though the laws available before the enactment of the Women’s Act were open to interpretation under personal law, there were no specific law(s) that prohibit violence against women.
Wife battering is most pervasive yet least recognized human right abuse in the world. It is a profound health problem, sapping women’s energy, comprising their physical health, and eroding their self esteem. But the culture of silence has nurture and developed this inhuman treatments within the society leaving women in dispirit condition.
Reports which suggest that wife battering is on increase, especially in the rural areas. Hardly a day goes by without a report of some gruesome outrageous and heinous act committed against a woman or a girl.
This menace takes a different dimension in our homes, where women are actually used as booty of war. For instance, a man may whip his wife for not placing a food on table for him to eat at his convenience. It will be even worse if the wife mistakenly place the food while it is hot. These are a handful of right violations meant to subjugate women in their matrimonial homes by husbands.
I agree that what works in one county may not lead to a desired result in another, but what should be borne in mind is that wife battering should not be put up with, which I believed should be applicable to all countries, cultures and communities.
The effects of violent acts against women are immense. It is a major obstacle to development. Violence against women hinders progress in achieving development targets.
Despite the growing recognition of violence against women as a public health and human rights concern, women right abuse continues to have an unjustifiably low priority on the international development agenda in planning, programming and budgeting.
Thanks to the women’s right defenders in the Gambia. Yes, they have come a long, but still have a long way to go.  Still now women in The Gambia, for cultural, religious or traditional reasons, are less included to report domestic violence or other types of violence against them.
The continued domination and discrimination has prevented the full advancement of women and in one of the crucial social mechanism. Women are forced into sub-ordinate position compared to men
If the culture of silence amongst victims of violence ends, with government obligation to protect women against violence perpetrators will be hold accountable to their actions.

Author: With Binta A Bah
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