President Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang said the country’s position on the former
government’s laws that were enacted to ban the deep-rooted cultural traditional
practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) will remain unchanged
despite change of government.
She said the laws will be implemented and reinforced to protect and prevent young girls and women from the decade’s long traditional practice.
Madam Jallow-Tambajang, also the minister of Women Affairs appeared alongside the European Union ambassador in The Gambia and other women and girls right advocates at Coral Beach Hotel and Spa where she presided the opening of a two-day international forum on FGM/C in The Gambia.
The forum commemorating the international day of zero tolerance on FGM/C was organised by Wassu Gambia Kafo (WGK) targeting to improve girls’ and women’s conditions and gender equality, under the framework of the EU funded project.
She said the harmful effects of FGM/C ranges from infection in terms of health and violation of the rights of girls and women to their bodily integrity. “The prevalence of FGM/C is estimated at 75% according to the demographic health survey in 2013 with 1.3 million people undergo the practice according to UNCIEF report in 2013.”
In November 2015, Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh announced at a gathering at his native village of Kanilai that his government would prohibit and ban the practice of FGM, saying he took that decision out of his love and sympathy for victims of the practice, particularly young girls.
This made the country the latest in a string of African nations to ban the ancient tradition of removing external parts of a girl’s vagina that has been widely condemned.
VP Jallow-Tambajang told the gathering that the lack of accurate scientific data has hampered work done on FGM/C in The Gambia, saying, “scientific evidence is needed to support ongoing sensitisation on FGM/C in the country. The clinical study done by Wassu Kafo in collaboration with Cuban Medical Mission countrywide is a step forward in this endeavour and has serve as an evidence based to support promulgation of the laws to ban FGM/C in 2015.”
Jayathma Wickramanaya, the United Nations secretary general’s special envoy on youth who was in the country said FGM/C is a harmful traditional practice that is affecting millions of girls and young women’s around the world.
She said the practice is not only harming girls and women’s also depriving them of their human rights. “It derails millions of girls and women in achieving their full potentials. This is unacceptable.”
The minister of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Low-Ceesay said FGM is recognised internationally as a violation of the right of the girl and women and constitute an extreme form of discrimination against women due to the severe health consequences and risk involved.
She said it is widely practiced in The Gambia and in the country’s demographic health and survey result of 2013, the prevalence rate rose to 75% nationally. “The government demonstrated commitment towards addressing FGM/C practice in the country but it is deeply-rooted with cultural and religious affiliation in some aspect.”
The European Union ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos expressed their firm commitment to gender equality and breaking the inner cycle of gender discrimination. “It is a commitment that we take very seriously. It reaches right from the top level of the EU Commissioner for International Corporation who has clearly stated it as a priority and wants it to be at the forefront.”