This month has been an exciting one at FLAG as we we launched our UNICEF Gambia and @UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) funded project on Strengthening Access to Justice for Children with Disabilities.
The first phase of the project was an interface on children’s rights and access to justice held in Barra and Kerewan on 15 – 16 and 22 – 23 October 2022. The first interface targeted 150 school-going children in each region, while the second interface targeted a similar number of out-of-school children in Barra and Kerewan. The interfaces entailed sessions on laws protecting children against SGBV, with focus on the Children’s Act, Sexual Offences Act, Domestic Violence Act, and the Women’s Act.
Our team presented all training materials in English, Wolof, Mandinka, and sign language. Participants were particularly interested in the sessions on the #antiFGM laws and the Sexual Offences Act, and shared their understanding of the protections available to them under the relevant laws. A huge concern raised at the interface in Kerewan is the inaccessibility of educational institutions & materials for children with disabilities, especially in rural areas. We remind the State House of The Gambia and Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Welfare of their responsibility to create solutions for these problems.
The second this phase of the project was a sensitisation exercise during which we engaged police officers at local police stations within the North Bank Region. In addition to highlighting the importance of knowing the existing laws under which offences against children can be prosecuted, we were able to donate copies of these legislations to the police stations. Each police station received a copy of the Women’s Act 2010, the Children’s Act 2005, the Domestic Violence Act 2013, the Disability Act 2021, and the Sexual Offences Act 2013. The beneficiaries were Barra, Amdalai, Ndungu Kebbeh, Njaba Kunda, Farafenni, and Ngain Sanjal Police stations. We hope that the Police will use these legislations to familiarise themselves with the powers they possess and the protections available to victims under these laws.
We ended this project by sharing posters with reminders of the need to protect the rights of children with disabilities. The posters were put up at Police Stations, community centres, and on busy roads in the communities we visited to ensure wide dissemination of the messages.