Health minister: FGM detrimental to reproductive health

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Isatou Touray has said that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is another form of sexual gender based violence which is a human rights violation and it has devastating health and reproductive health consequences for girls and women.

She was speaking at a Symposium on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) held at the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul yesterday.

“In November 2015, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalised in The Gambia, marking a milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensuring that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled.”

She said this significant accomplishment came to pass after several years of sensitisation and training of individuals and communities, by GAMCOTRAP and other women’s rights NGOs and their government partners, reinforced by stringent advocacy with decision and policy makers. She added that as a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo subject in both homes and communities, the issue has become a household word in The Gambia.

“The Joint UNFPA/UNICEF programme for the accelerated abandonment of FGM/C, which started in 2009, played a pivotal role in this critical transition for the women and girls of The Gambia. Support from the joint programme allowed for the sensitisation and training of traditional and religious leaders, men, women, in and out of school children, policymakers, law enforcement agents and circumcisers on the health, reproductive health and human rights effects of FGM/C,” she pointed out.

She lamented that the supportive role of convinced Islamic religious leaders and scholars in the advocacy against FGM/C was influential at both policy and community levels. “Advocacy efforts of all partners resulted in government legislating against child marriage which is another form of SGBV.”

Author: Pa Modou Cham