Neneh Touray, the Assistant Director of Information Education and Communication of the Women’s Bureau, has stated that even though there is a change of government, it does not in any way affect the ban on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).
“Government can be changed but the law still remains. The laws were made by the NAMs, therefore, if you offend the law, you will be punished according to the law,” she stated.
She added: “It is true that the law still exists, but is also important that we sensitise you on the existence of the laws.”
She made these remarks in Basse Koba Kunda in the Fulladou District and Borro Kandeh Kesseh village in the Wulli East District during a regional sensitisation programme, organised by the Women Bureau and funded by UNICEF.
The regional sensitisation outreach, she noted, was part of the Women Bureau’s activity, designed to reach out to communities, especially those at the grassroots with the objective of exposing and informing them about the existing laws, despite the change of government.
The Women Bureau assistant communication officer stated that certain individuals think that the laws were made during the former regime and now that there is a new government those laws do not exist.
She said they need to understand that the change of government has nothing to do with laws of the land, unless they are changed.
She reminded the gathering that children, especially girls are strong forces of the society and that their rights need to be valued, protected and empowered, and not violated.
“Girls should be able to celebrate their culture and heritage, thus any culture or heritage meant to violate them should be banned in the society,” she noted.
Madam Touray urged the communities to ‘say no to the practice, dangers associated with FGM, early marriage, among others, as well as empower girls to ‘say no to the practice.’
The Chief of Wulli East District, Ebrima Juwara and the Chief of Fulladou District, Hammeh Minteh Krubally, both underscored the significance of the forum.
“Many people think that because the law was made during the former regime they no more exist,” they added.
Alieu Saidykhan from the Youth Development Forum and Buba Ceesay both spoke at length on the significance of the forum.
They both reminded the gathering about some of the penalties involved in the menace.
“Whoever is found doing the practice can be sentenced up to three years in prison or a fine of D50, 000 or both,” Ceesay added.
For her part, Majula Kuyateh from the Regional Health Team of URR added that FGM/C which has been an age long tradition poses lots of harms on women and girls, such as sociological trauma, prolong labour and Fistulas, which are very difficult to manage and treat.
Kebba Jatta from the Social Welfare Department and Imam Khalifa Jammeh from the Ministry of Education, both echoed similar sentiment on the negative impact of FGM/C and early marriage.
The sensitisation continued to Sare Ngai village in Wulli West District of URR.