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|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 24 Jun 2016 : 16:54:21
A story of child marriage survivors
The Point: Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Jonsaba Jaiteh and Fatou Ceesay, two survivors of early marriage, have been giving heart-touching testimonies of the torment that changed their lives.
Speaking at the official launching of First Lady Zineb Yahya Jammeh’s campaign to end child marriage in The Gambia, the duo said they were forced to marry men they did not love.
Jonsaba Jaiteh is from Kanifing Municipality and Fatou Ceesay, Lower River Region.
Narrating her story in front of 100s of local and international dignitaries, including United Nations officials at the launching ceremony, Jonsaba said she is a maternal orphan..................
|4 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 26 Jul 2016 : 14:07:50
Deputies Pass Bill to Prohibit Child Marriage
By Amie Sanneh
Foroyaa: July 26, 2016
Deputies at the National Assembly, on Thursday, 21 July, 2016, passed the Children’s (Amendment) Bill 2016 which seeks to prohibit Deputies Pass Bill to Prohibit Child Marriagechild marriage and make provisions for the offence of the practice under the Children’s Act of 2005.
Section 2 of the Children’s Act (2005) is amended by inserting immediately after the definition of “child abuse” the following definition- “child marriage” means a marriage contracted between a child and an adult or between a child and another child.”
Section 19 of the said Act is amended in paragraph (a) by inserting immediately after the words “life of the child,” a comma and the words, “such as female circumcision”.
Section 24 of the Act is amended by substituting for it, the following-
“24. Prohibition of child marriage
•A child shall not be capable of contracting a valid marriage and child marriage is prohibited.
•A parent, guardian, or any other adult who willfully-
•Contracts a marriage on behalf of a child;
•Causes a child to contract a marriage; or
•Forces a child to contract a marriage,
Commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding twenty years.
•An adult who willfully –
•aids and abets a parent, guardian, or any other adult to commit an offence under sub-section (2),
•conspires with a parent, guardian, or any other adult to commit an offence under subsection (2),
commits an offence and is reliable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding twenty years.
•An adult who becomes aware of the commission of an offence under sub-section(2) by a parent, guardian, or any other adult and intentionally fails to report, commits and is liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding ten years,
•The High Court of The Gambia has jurisdiction in respect of the commission of an offence under sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) by a parent, guardian, or any other adult.”
6. Amendment of section 25
Section 25 of the Principal Act is amended by substituting for it, the following –
“(25) Prohibition of child betrothal, etc.
•A parent, guardian, or any other adult who willfully –
•betroths a child to any person; or
•makes a child the subject of a dowry transaction,
commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment not exceeding twenty years.”
The High Court of The Gambia has a jurisdiction in respect of the commission of an offence under sub-section (1) by a parent, guardian, or any other adult,”
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mama Fatima Singhateh, presenting the bill to the deputies, said it seeks to ban Child Marriage in the country. She described Child Marriage as a social and humanitarian problem that affects the children, particularly the girl child. “This issue has become one of the most complex and controversial matters in recent times,” she remarked.
According to the Minister, numerous factors contribute to its continuous practice such as gender inequality, poverty, cultural and traditional practices and lack of education.
“Child Marriage compromises their overall development leaving them socially disadvantaged with little or no education, livelihood skills, no opportunities for employment, no self reliasation as well as exposure to health risks and other complications,” she stressed.
Justice Minister Singhateh believes that all these limitations are the reasons why poverty is passed on from generation to generation for children are not psychologically, emotionally or physically ready for marriage life or being parents. She said according to research, 30 per cent of girls in the Gambia are married before the age of 18 and approximately 9% are married before the age of 15. She added that amongst women 23.5% from 15 to 19 years are currently married.
She said child marriages are common within the rural communities of the Gambia which is why the wife of the president launched a campaign to end child marriage in the Gambia thus making it the 13th country to launch the AU end child marriage.
Minister Singhateh added that the declaration made by the president on the immediate ban of child marriage on the 6 July, 2016, sets in motion the drafting of a legislation which does not only prohibit the marriage of girls below 18 years but also criminalises the act in order to ensure that any person who causes or encourages the contracting of a marriage of a person under the age of 18years commits offence and will suffer severe punishment in conviction.
With the banning of child marriage, she noted that it was felt prudent to amend the already existing Children’s Act which was amended in 2005. She added that the said Act before its amendment makes provision for the prohibition of child marriage but did not go far enough. The reason why they came up with this bill, she said, is to ensure that it complies with common day practice and protect children from early marriage thus encouraging them to complete their education.
In seconding the bill, the Deputy speaker Fatou Mbye said child marriage affects both boys and girls but girls are more vulnerable. She described this as a long standing practice which does not make it to be correct or to continue as usual. “We must find a way to deter and ban child marriage,” she stressed.
Foday Jallow, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Niamina East, said child marriage is one of the leading causes of maternal death, reduces children from the education system and increases fertility ratio, rapid population growth. This, he went on, is making governments to come up with measures banning child marriage to enable them prepare for the future generation
The NAM for Jeshwang, Haddy Nyang Jagne said all marriages should be based on consent of both parties. “A person cannot consent to a marriage until they are matured enough to understand the consequences of marriage and to be able to disregard any improper pressures,” she said.
The NAMs for Kiang West, Kiang East, Banjul Central as well as the nominated members, nominated members Alagie Saine and Seedy Njie, all lauded the importance of the Bill and highlighted the dangers associated with child marriage.
||Posted - 12 Jul 2016 : 21:26:53
UNICEF applauds ban on Child Marriage in Gambia
The Point: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in The Gambia has issued a statement welcoming President Yahya Jammeh’s ban on child marriage in The Gambia.
“We applaud the strong leadership shown by His Excellency the President, demonstrating government’s commitment to protect and fulfil the rights of children,” the statement issued to this paper yesterday said.
The following is the full statement of UNICEF The Gambia:
UNICEF’s Response to the ban on Child Marriage in the Islamic Republic of The Gambia
UNICEF The Gambia welcomes the declaration by His Excellency the President of The Islamic Republic of The Gambia to ban child marriage in the country, effective 6th July 2016.
We applaud the strong leadership shown by His Excellency the President, demonstrating government’s commitment to protect and fulfil the rights of children.
Child marriage is a violation of the rights of girls, endangering their health, educational opportunities and increasing their vulnerability to violence.
The 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) indicates that over 40 per cent of women aged 20 – 49 in The Gambia were married before the age of 18 years, while 16 per cent of women of the same age cohort got married before they turned 15. This practice denies girls their right to education and freedom to control their bodies; it also endangers their health, and exposes them to the risks associated with maternal complications, HIV infection and Gender-Based Violence.
This unprecedented move by the Government of The Islamic Republic of The Gambia is a great win for the people of the country, development organizations and partners, and especially the girls who are potentially at risk of child marriage.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) calls upon member states to ensure that all children - boys and girls - realize their full rights to develop, thrive and reach their fullest potential.
UNICEF is mandated by the UNCRC to work with member states in building safe and conducive environments for children to realize their rights, including the right to be protected from harmful practices, including child marriage.
UNICEF is committed to continue working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia in the drafting of the comprehensive legislation that bans child marriage and provides support for victims as a crucial element in the fight to eliminate child marriage.
UNICEF will also continue working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia and Civil Society Organizations to put this legislation into practice, by putting in place guidelines, guidance and programmes to end child marriage and protect the rights of the girl child.
UNICEF trusts that the government’s commitment will turn into practice, and child marriage will no longer have place in the Gambian community.
||Posted - 12 Jul 2016 : 21:03:04
Reaction to the President’s early marriage pronouncement
By MUHAMMED .S. BAH
Foroyaa: July 11, 2016
Njundu Drammeh of the Child Protection Alliance when contacted, welcomed the pronouncement of President Jammeh on banningMr Njundu Drammeh early marriage. He however added that further measures need to be taken to protect children from abuse and violence.
“We at CPA welcome the President’s pronouncement against child marriage in The Gambia and …. that a law be enacted as soon as possible to give legal effect to the pronouncement. Child marriage has devastating and long lasting consequences on the health, education and general well being of children, and the State has an obligation to protect its children.”
But Mr Drammeh added: “Certainly, legislation is not the only measure to protect children from abuse and violence. We need to put in place educational, social and administrative measures and programmes to ensure greater protection and enjoyment of all other rights. We need to also enhance the life skills of our children, especially the females, so that they are able to navigate the challenges of growing up and be able to protect themselves. We would need a vigorous implementation and enforcement of the Children’s Act 2005 and severely punish anyone who sexually abuses a child.”
As Muslim religious leaders and elders converged at the state house in Banjul on Wednesday, 6 July, 2016, in their traditional meeting with the executive after every Eid ul Fitr (Koriteh) prayers, President Yahya Jammeh made a pronouncement that early child marriage will be banned in The Gambia.
He told the religious elders that a bill will be taken to the National Assembly for legislation before July 22 this year banning any marriage in which the bride is below the age of 18 years.
President Jammeh said the offence will attract 10 years of prison without the option of a fine for the bridegroom or husband and 21 years for the parents. He also said both imam and emissaries involved in the marriage will be liable for committing an offence and will face similar penalties as well.
The ban will also include forced marriages, irrespective of age.
He said the district chiefs, alkalolu and regional governors should be vigilant in enforcing this law when it comes into being.
However, this banning of early marriage is just a pronouncement from the president and is not yet made law to be enforceable in all parts of the country.
||Posted - 11 Jul 2016 : 17:51:48
This from the Point;
Child protection activists welcome President’s ban on child marriage
Monday, July 11, 2016
Child activists across the country have shown their appreciation of President Yahya Jammeh’s declaration banning child marriage in The Gambia.
The Gambian leader on 6 July 2016 at State House announced the banning of child marriage and forced marriage in the country.
He said a law to that effect will be enacted by the National Assembly, latest 21 July 2016.
“As from today, child marriage under 18 years is illegal in The Gambia,” President Jammeh declared.
“The Ministry of Interior should work with the Ministry of Local Government, and the Ministry of Information should disseminate the information before 22 July.”
Jammeh stated further that the law will come with penalties, against parents, husbands of victims and fathers who will be jailed for 20 and 21 years; and religious leaders who preside over the marriage will face the consequences.
“Those that force their daughters to get married to husbands not their choice will be jailed for 10 years.”
He said child marriage exposes victims who are under 18 to numerous diseases that affect their health condition.
He, therefore, proposed a 20-year sentence for culprits.
This declaration by the President has been highly welcomed by many people across the country, especially child protection activists.
Speaking to The Point at the weekend, Lisa Camara, the Guardian Global End FGM Campaign Media Coordinator, said the announcement was not a surprise to her, as during a recent function of first ladies, the Gambian First Lady promised to do everything in her power to protect Gambian children.
“Listening to all those testimonies of victims of child marriage plus watching the videos of the caravan,” Lisa explained, “it was obvious as the mother to all Gambian children, Her Excellency the First Lady would continue the fight, and the President’s declaration banning child marriage is a perfect example of that promise.”
She said further: “To the campaigners, this is not the end of the road; the announcement means we have a lot more work to do as we owe it to the people to educate them about the dangers associated with child marriage. Let us come together in creating a safe Gambia for our children who are the future of our nation.”
Lamin K. Saidy of Child Protection Alliance and the National Coordinator of Safe Hands for Girls, in his remarks, said banning child marriage is welcomed news to child protection actors.
“Child marriage compromises all the other rights of children such as education and health, he said, adding that it exposes the child to dependency as a result of lack of education and skills.”
Despite the pronouncement, he added, they want the process of the bill drafting to be expedited.
The state and NGOs should ensure their structures engage the communities on the issue of forced marriage, he added.
“I think men who are accepting such wives are automatically committing suicide.”
President Jammeh in his pronouncement banning forced and child marriage in The Gambia, said no individual will be given the leverage to seek external support for the implementation of the laws and penalties for child marriage culprits.
The President also called on regional governors, chiefs and the police to report suspected cases of forced and child marriage, adding that any attempt to hide information and the commissioning of such crimes “will cost the suspects dearly”.
Author: Halimatou Ceesay
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