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24 villages abandon FGM in URR

Dec 24, 2009, 12:46 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh from URR

A total number of 24 communities in Tumana and Kantora, all in Jimara district Upper River Region over the weekend converged in Sotuma Kantora to solemnly declare their intention to abandon the practices of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early and forced marriages.

In her speech on behalf of the communities, Borrie Kandeh said the declaration came following a series of sensitisation programmes on human rights and responsibilities, democracy, problem-solving, health and hygiene modules. 

According to her, the aim is to reinforce a national movement for the promotion of human rights in The Gambia, Africa and the world at large. This, she added is based on a community initiative through Tostan Community Empowerment Programme, in partnership with the government of The Gambia and UNICEF since 2006.

Mrs. Kandeh called on other communities in the URR and the rest of the country to join the movement. She also expressed gratitude to the government of The Gambia and their development partners, especially UNICEF for their continuous support.

For his part, Mr. Abdourahman Fatty, the Chairman of the Steering Committee maintained that harmful traditional practices are violation of fundamental human rights and dignity for all, especially women and girls.

He said after evaluating both the positive and negative effects of the practices, often with careful observation, discussion and dialogue with community members and local and influential leaders, the 24 communities had declared to abandon harmful cultural practices, such as Female Genital Cutting, child and forced marriages.

According to him, it is important to note that Tostan Community Empowerment Programme is not only focussing on the FGM, but has a holistic approach to community-led sustainable development, covering issues such as democracy, good governance, human rights, problem-solving, among others.

Speaking on behalf of the circumcisers, Matty Karega expressed great concern for their ignorance of the practices, noting that with Tostan UNICEF – Gambia government holistic approach is described as an eye-opener for the community of URR.  She then thanked Tostan for their invaluable support.