ML Davies demonstrating the self defense skills to the participants

By: Foday Manneh

Gambian activists fighting Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Modou Lamin Davies and Mam Lisa Camara, have launched a new tool in the country to protect women and girls.

They formed a new organization called Beyond Advocacy using the empowerment-based model of self-defense (ESD) to build the capacity of women and girls to protect themselves from violence.

According to Davies, “there is no issue or pandemic bigger than the pandemic of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.”

“2019-20 Demographic and Health Survey shows that 9 percent of women between the ages 15 to 49 in The Gambia have experienced sexual violence, while almost 40 percent of ever-married women have been subjected to either physical, sexual or emotional violence”.

Davies said this is the first time the ESD model is being introduced in The Gambia and added that the organization “will serve as an effective tool to interrupt violence even before it happens.”

Training on Self Defense

“Telling victims what to do or where to go after they have already been physically or sexually abused is cheap. Instead, our program is grounded in understanding the history, psychology, patterns, and underlying causes of violence.

“The program helps people to avoid danger and de-escalate conflicts; and increases self-efficacy in problem-solving around SGBV”.

He explained that “the ESD skills are very similar to first-aid skills and can be taught quickly to anyone, including persons with disabilities, young people, and the elderly.”

“It is important to underscore that the ESD is not martial arts. This is why you do not need to be physically strong to learn and practice self-defense.”

Mam Lisa Camara, co founder of Beyond Advocacy

Meanwhile, Beyond Advocacy claims to have trained hundreds of individuals and organizations in The Gambia and abroad, ranging from civil society organizations, students, and professionals, on the ESD model.

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