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Gambia: Update to GMB20995.E of 16 June 1995 regarding state protection available to female victims of domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 15 January 2003
Citation / Document Symbol GMB40833.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Gambia: Update to GMB20995.E of 16 June 1995 regarding state protection available to female victims of domestic violence, 15 January 2003, GMB40833.E, available at: [accessed 31 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001,

Domestic violence, including abuse, is a problem. It is reported occasionally, and its occurrence is believed to be common. Police tend to consider these incidents to be domestic issues outside of their ordinary jurisdiction. Rape and assault are crimes under the law; rape is not common. The law does not differentiate between married and unmarried women in this regard (4 Mar. 2002, Sec. 4).

Africa Online's gender profile for Gambia reports that individuals who have carnal knowledge of a female under the age of 16, except in the case of marriage, are guilty of a criminal act (n.d.). The profile also states that incest is unlawful and that "these laws are generally enforced" (Africa Online n.d.).

Commenting on what the government has done to enhance the sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Gambia, Her Excellency Vice President Ms. Njie-Saidy, who is also the Secretary of State for Women's Affairs, stated the following:

Government in partnership with UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund], WHO [World Health Organization] and the WID [Women in Development] component of Safe Motherhood had spearheaded a movement to enhance the sexual and reproductive health rights of women. These together with other similar initiatives have culminated in the draft policy which clearly identifies the area of sexual and reproductive health rights as critical and made it a priority (WIN News Winter 2002, 55).

However, additional information regarding the movement to enhance women's sexual and reproductive health rights and draft policy mentioned above could not be found among the sources consulted.

An article by The Independent provides details of a study released by the National Women's Bureau on gender relations with a focus on violence against women (12 Aug. 2002). According to The Independent, the study found that approximately 66 percent of Gambian women have experienced battery or beating by their husbands (12 Aug. 2002). The study also noted a significant increase of violence against women and girls over the past five years in the form of rape, forced marriages and other forms of sexual abuse (The Independent 12 Aug. 2002). Although the article does not mention what kind of state protection is available to women who experience domestic violence, it includes the following observation:

The report observes that deeply entrenched attitudes and traditions justify men's easy access to women's bodies and result in the transmission of the [AIDS] virus through rape, incest and other forms of coerced sex. Through traditional practices like female genital mutilation [and] violence against women, society is deprived of the full participation of women in all aspects of development ... (ibid.).

Additional information on state protection available to female victims of domestic violence could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Africa Online. n.d. "AFROL Gender Profiles: The Gambia." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2002]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. 4 March 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 13 Jan. 2003]

The Independent [Banjul]. 12 August 2002. "Gambia: Gender Violence Increases in the Gambia." (Africa News/NEXIS)

WIN News [Lexington, MA]. Winter 2002. Vol. 28. No. 1. "The Gambia: Vice President Speaks on Women's Rights and Health."

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet site, including:

Africa Confidential

Africa Online

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)

African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)

Amnesty International (AI)

The Ark Foundation

BBC Africa

The Independent

Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

Pritchard Law Webs

The Republic of the Gambia

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

United Nations Development Fund for Women

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women

Women's Human Rights Net

World News Connection (WNC)

Search Engine:


Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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