Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA) recently held a forum in Foni Kampanti where
they engaged youth, children and adults in a discussion for the total
elimination of the decades-long deeply rooted practice of Female Genital
Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage.
Organised under the theme: FGM is not a religious obligation; stop it now, the event brought together people from Kampanti village and neighbouring communities to discuss issues affecting them, particularly FGM/C and child marriage.
Senior project manager of NSGA Francisco S. Mendy said in October 2018, NSGA and UNICEF signed a partnership agreement in which NSGA will serve as an implementing partner for the project towards ending the practice of FGM/C through the engagement of children, youth, women and men.
He said the Kampanti gathering was one of their engagements, saying there are other five partners who are organising similar activities in the project through NSGA. “The 2013 demographic and health survey in The Gambia has indicated that 18% of women (15-19 years) have begun childbearing and 14% have had a live birth and yet evidence has shown that there is insufficient awareness of the risks associated with early pregnancy,” he said
Mr. Mendy said fistula cases are also a reality in The Gambia, but they are not often talked about; possibly due to lack of knowledge on availability of treatment. “This life threatening situation on young woman who are often abandoned as social outcasts, is a result of factors and practices such as FGM and child marriage which, though banned by legislation, still remain a serious challenge in our communities,” he said.
He said as part of the project, NSGA strives to ensure that key health messages and available legislation is taken to the farthest community in the country. “This is where all of us, especially our leaders at all levels matter. We must be real and sincere in what we say and do. We cannot openly condemn a practice in public functions and yet behind the scenes, be the main financier and supporter,” he said, and added, “Our children, especially girls are most vulnerable.”
He said young girls need adults’ collective action to give them a safer future, saying they are given necessary support such as knowledge, attitude and skills to protect themselves against issues affecting them and the society.
Wandifa Drammeh, a senior community development officer who represented the regional governor thanked NSGA for reaching out to them, saying this is not the first time they are working with NSGA for the betterment of the country.