Banjul, The Gambia, December 11, 2019—Women from three rural areas of the Gambia (Sintet, Janjanbureh, and Basse) will submit a report to the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on December 16 that describes their experiences of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) during former President Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years of dictatorial rule and the impact of the violations on their lives and families. In the report, the women join voices to offer recommendations to the TRRC and the Gambian government.
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and women support groups in the three regions collaborated to produce the report. Beginning last March, ICTJ conducted a series of consultation workshops with women in each region to collect and document their stories, with the purpose of helping them write and submit a report to the TRRC. In total, ICTJ consulted 75 women, including women victims and leaders, who recounted their experiences of human rights violations and SBGV in their communities through storytelling and interviews.
During the workshops, the women discussed their experiences of the dictatorship and how they survived without any support, hiding the violations they suffered from their families and finding strength in their own resilience. Fearing further victimization or stigmatization, they call on the TRRC to establish alternative channels to collect more experiences from women during the dictatorship. As one woman explained, “We want the TRRC to consider our recommendations and develop approaches that will enhance our participation in the TRRC process.” Moreover, the women ask that these violations never happen again, and recommend that the government enforce and strengthen laws protecting women’s rights. They also recommend that the government provide community-based psychosocial support and reparation to the women victims.
The former regime was characterized by arbitrary arrests and detention, killings, torture, exploitation, and all forms of violations against women. In addition to already known and documented atrocities, ICTJ’s consultations revealed that many of these women were forced to work on the Jammeh’s farms where some of them were sexually abused or exploited. The women also experienced social and economic hardships, which persist today, as a result of the pervasive violations they suffered under the past regime that were never properly addressed.
In submitting their report to the TRRC, the women hope to ensure that their experiences are included in the country’s narrative of the past, and that the government takes vigorous measures to improve protections for women today and in next generation. As one of the women declared, “We should be given the platform to tell our stories, for we do not want our children to suffer the same violations we did.”
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) works across society and borders to challenge the causes and address the consequences of massive human rights violations. We affirm victims’ dignity, fight impunity, and promote responsive institutions. ICTJ envisions a world where societies break the cycle of massive human rights violations and lay the foundations for peace, justice, and inclusion. For more information, visit www.ictj.org.
Chris Boland, Communications Associate, ICTJ
Tel.: +1 917 637 3805
Didier Gbery, Head of Program, the Gambia, ICTJ
Tel.: +220 213 7318
PHOTO: ICTJ staff consult with women inSintet, the Gambia, about their experiences during the dictatorship. (ICTJ)