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A wake-up call: Banning FGM and Child Marriage in Gambia

Oct 23, 2015, 10:20 AM

The United Nations System in The Gambia has called for the banning of female genital mutilation and child marriage in The Gambia.

The call to ban this twin evils affecting our young girls and, by extension, the society, was made recently when marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations under the theme: “Building Tomorrow’s UN Today”.

The UN System in The Gambia called for legislation against child marriage and FGM, as part of efforts to ensure full protection for the rights and welfare of children, especially the girl-child.

The call to eradicate child marriage and FGM is also in line with the Post 2015 Agenda, which aims to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and FGM by 2030.

FGM and child marriage are two evils that endanger the lives and impede the good growth of our young girls.

In essence they go a long way in sapping the viability and human resourcefulness of our society, as they continue to cause harm to the health and productivity of our girls and women.

Whereas FGM exposes them to hazards and health risks, early and or forced marriage saps them of their right to grow healthily, learn and become productive human resource of society.

Through this twin evil, our girls in The Gambia are deprived of realizing their full potential and attaining better education that would be of benefit to them, their families and the nation at large in future.

“Two lingering challenges: child marriage and the prevalence of FGM, need our urgent attention,” the UN System said. 

“Child marriage in The Gambia continues to deny many young girls the opportunity of post-primary education, which is critical in poverty alleviation and economic transformation.”

As regards The Gambia, the UN 2015 report has said it all, and has given a wake-up call for our authorities to do something to stall the trend of FGM activity and child marriage in our society.

It should be noted that the Demographic Health Survey, 2013 of The Gambia shows that 16 per cent of women aged 20-49 years were married before their 15th birthday, and 41 per cent of the same age group got married by age 18.

“Moving forward, the solution against child marriage and FGM lies in the enactment of laws banning these practices,” the UN says.

It stated that similar proposals to the Gambia government were made in the July 2015 report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the AU African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACWRC) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Right.

Considering the seriousness of these two harmful cultural practices, it is imperative that our authorities do something about eradicating them in The Gambia.

“Educating Girls is one of the most powerful tools to prevent child marriage.”

Global Partnership to End Child Marriage