NBR communities commit to end Early Marriage, FGM

Friday, May 17, 2019

Six communities in the North Bank Region have pledged their commitment to end the decades-long traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in their communities during night film shows on a Never Again on FGM/C and child marriage campaign by the National Youth Council (NYC).

Supported by UNICEF Gambia office, the campaign covered six NBR districts. It was meant to increase knowledge and skill of the communities on the dangers and complications associated with FGM/C and child marriage and increase awareness among adolescent boys and girls on the dangers attached.

In May, 2015, Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh announced he was outlawing the practice of FGM, in a statement while addressing thousands of supporters at his home-village of Kanilai. He said he took the decision to declare the practice illegal after having several consultation with Islamic religious leaders who said it has no place in Islam or in a modern society.

The five days campaign targets women, girls and youth of Mademba Kunda and N’gayen Sanjal, Farafenni, Kerr Omar Saine, Jokadou and Essau Lower.

NYC programme manager Alagie Jarju said; “we are advocating for behavioral or attitudinal change with regards to the mindset or mentality people have towards the practice and eradication of FGMC/child marriage.”

Pa Modou Gaye from N’gayen Sanjal in the upper Baddibu district said child marriage and FGM issues should be openly discussed with youth, parents and children to raise more awareness towards the total ending of the practices.

Kumba Gaye, a grade 12 student from N’gayen Sanjal appealed to parents to stop forcing their girl child into marriage, suggesting that they should be allowed to complete their basic education.  “Many a times, intelligent girls will be withdrawn from school for marriage without any reason. This is not fair at all. We, as girls have right to education and we should be allowed to fulfil that right,” she stressed.

Haddy Saine, women leader of Kerr Omar Saine in Jokadou said, child marriage and FGM are practices that affect women and girls’ health. She called on parents to stay away from the practices, describing them as bad traditional practices that have no benefit on the society.

Mati Kebbeh said the practices are bad traditions that every parent should avoid. “It is our moral responsibility to protect our children from all forms of harmful practices, including child marriage and FGM/C. I am committed to work with people to end it in our community,” she said.

Nyima Ceesay, a young girl called on parents to protect them from all forms of harmful traditional practices, saying all that they need is to be empowered, guided and supported to reach to their full potential. “We want to go to school but not maternal house or been cut which may lead to our suffocation,” she said.

Alhagie Jobe, a parent challenged his fellow parents to counsel their children, especially girl child on issues of sexual and reproductive health. “We, as parents need to protect our children at all cost because that is our responsibility. FGM/C and child marriage are two practices that have no benefit on our children and women,” he said.   

He also challenged girls to listen to their parents and follow their advices at all time, saying this will help to protect them from all forms of harms.

Kaddy Wadda, a young girl blamed some parents for not fulfilling their responsibility as required in term of protection and guidance, saying some parents don’t care about their children's welfare and future especially girls. “This is not helping our society. What we need is protection, guidance and support to realize our full potential,” she said. 

Author: Sulayman Ceesay