Banjul- Gambia (PANA) -- The chair of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practic es Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), Dr.
Isatou Touray, wh o was granted bail early in the week, Friday lamented the plight of several women , who she said "are suffering rights violation at the state Central Prison, Mile I I," PANA reported from here.
Touray made the disclosure at the opening of a meeting of an international coali tion of women rights defenders across Africa, Asia and Latin America in Banjul, T he Gambia, meant to provide African women rights defenders the opportunity to me e t with Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoplesâ? Rights and also direct testimonies on the challenges posed to them as women rights defende r s in Africa.
Sharing her nine-day experience behind bars, where she was detained in company o f Amie Bojang Sissoho, the secretary of the GAMCOTRAP, Touray said "these women, with whom I interacted while in detention and heard their testimonies, need help because they are suffering from violations of their rights with impunity.
" Touray, who is also the secretary general of the Inter-Africa Committee, present in 38 countries, said she and her secretary had not committed any crimes as hum a n rights defenders.
"We are standing in for the voiceless," and wondered "is it b ecause we are fighting for the rights of the voiceless" that we were being perse c uted? She said states did not put in place effective mechanism for them to be monitore d for accountability, noting that GAMCOTRAP, as a women rights organization work i ng on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and the girl-child, gender- b ased violence and in particular, female genital mutilation, early marriage, amon g other things affecting the health of women, was working towards holding the gov e rnment accountable as it had issued alternative reports in the past.
Speaking earlier, Mr.
Clement Voule of the International Service for Human Right s (ISHR), said women human rights defenders should be protected and respected in all means as they are faced with many threats in their various countries.
The Banjul meeting was organized by the Women Human Rights Defenders Internation al Coalition, in cooperation with the International Service of Human Rights (ISH R ), Conectas Directos Humanos, African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Stud i es (ACDHRS), East Horn of African Human Rights Defenders Network and West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network.
The meeting precedes an NGO Forum that will be held in Banjul 7-9 November and t he 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoplesâ? Rights (10-24 November), in which a resolution on the situation of women human rights d efenders is expected to be passed.