By Sailu Bah
Action Aid International The Gambia (AAITG) Women’s Rights HIV/AIDS and Malaria program on 7 November, 2014 at the CIAM office at Kanifing concluded a 3 day training of 140 young people from different regions on Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The training was facilitated and coordinated by Activista the Gambia.
Almamo Barrow of Action Aid, in his presentation on violence against women and its linkage with HIV and AIDS, said 50% of women who are violated are the most affected. He said 80% of the HIV and AIDS cases are caused by heterosexual contacts and that the best way one can prevent oneself from AIDS as a youth is to abstain from sex before getting married. He further advised those getting married to first go for Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT).
“28,000 people are currently affected in the Gambia with HIV and 500 people die from HIV andAIDS annually. The highest prevalence of HIV is in West Coast Region,” he revealed.
Mr. Barrow said FGM is a leading cause of HIV and AIDS in the sub region, especially in the Gambia. He also cited the case of violence against women such as rape which is an abuse of someone’s human rights.
Fatou Jatta, Vice President of Santa Yalla, an organization of people living with HIV and AIDS, shared her experience with participants. She said she has been HIV positive for the past 18 years, adding that being affected with the virus does not mean that one cannot live a happy life like others.
“I am advising each and every one of you to go for a VCT to know your status. When you are infected with the Virus you can use the ARV medicine. This will help to suppress the Virus. With faith nothing can come to your life to obstruct you from living a normal life,” she advised.
Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan, Activista Coordinator, in his closing remarks, said the knowledge they have shared during the three days training should not go in vain. He urged the participants to make good use of the information gathered from the training and disseminate it to other young people who are not privileged to take part in the training.
“Try and encourage your friends to go for VTCs to know their status. Education is the most important issue as it helps in HIV and AIDS prevention. It is therefore important to educate others,” he said..
Mrs. Fanta Jatta Sowe, Action Aid Women’s Rights Program Specialist, said the training is part of Actions Aid’s implementation of Global Funds program.
She said they involved the youth from different regions as they are more vulnerable to gender based violence and constitute the highest percentage of the population.
She concluded that people should respect other people’s human rights and should not practise any form of violence against women. She said there is no law or religion that encourages violence against women.