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Abandoning fgm gains momentum

Dec 8, 2009, 1:53 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh & Binta Fatty

60 Circumcisers Dropped Knives

The campaign to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country has gained momentum with the dropping of a knife by as many as sixty circumcisers for the first time in the history of The Gambia.

The circumcisers were drawn from three hundred and fifty one communities in the Upper and Central River Regions.

After relinquishing the practice, circumcisers took an oath that they would not practise the FGM in their life again.

The circumcisers made these commitments last Saturday December 5th, at the Basse Mini Stadium during the 2nd public declaration.

Speaking at the landmark event, the Executive Director of the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRA) Dr. Isatou Touray revealed that her organisation is a women's rights NGO that promotes social, political, economic and cultural rights of women. She further revealed that her organisation have been operating in the region for over twenty years during which so many achievements have been registered. This, she noted, had been made possible through their efforts and their sister organisations, such as BAFROW and ADWAC.

"In pursuit of our mandate, GAMCOTRAP have used the right base approaches in addressing harmful traditional practices in addressing traditional practices, women?s rights and gender base violence," she said.

Dr. Touray added that through the support of their partners they have taken the rights base approach to work with all sectors of society in their advocacy work. She noted that as a result of sustained advocacy community awareness building and dialogue more communities are beginning to see the need to drop the knife, thus protecting women and children of The Gambia.

The gender activist informed the gathering that they have trained the circumcisers on small-scale entrepreneurial skills as an alternative.

She expressed appreciation to the government for creating an enabling environment for effective engagement with communities, while commending various partners and donors for the support given to them.

Kebba K Barrow, the Programme Officer of TANGO lamented that one of the major acts of violence against women in The Gambia is FGM, describing the event as a landmark achievement.

Dr. Morisanda Kuyateh of the Inter-Africa Committee noted that the day is a great day for the continent.

"Today you are showing to the rest of the world that yes it is possible to eliminate FGM," says Dr. Kuyateh.

The Assistant UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Rueben Mboge reaffirmed his organisation?s resolve in eliminating FGM.

UNFPA, he said, is committed to addressing FGM in a holistic manner by funding and implementing culturally sensitive programmes for the abandoning of the practice, advocating for legal and policy reforms, while building national capacity to stop all forms of Female Genital Cutting, among others. He encouraged GAMCOTRAP to continue the dialogue.

Mrs. Mariama Jaw representing the URR Governor thanked God for the success of the event. She said the issue of discussing FGM in a public place is no more a taboo, thanks to the awareness creation of GAMCOTRAP.

Other speakers included Honourable Bakai Camara of Wuli East, who read a declaration by parliamentarians on FGM and the law.