The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the health of women and girls (GAMCOTRAP) with support from a Spanish based organization, Yolocamba, recently sensitized communities in the Central River Region on female genital mutilation FGM and other harmful traditional practices.
The workshop was held in Brikamaba and was attended by two hundred participants from surrounding seventeen communities in the region.
Discussions were centered on the effects of female genital mutilation as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls.
In his welcoming address, the Alkalo of Brikamaba, Alhajie Lamin Nyamo Ceesay, called on participants to make maximum use of the workshop to gain insight into the work of GAMCOTRAP, which he noted is spread throughout the country.
He advised the participants to learn from the sensitization as representatives of their people so as to report back based on the knowledge gained.
The Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. lsatou Touray, told the participants that harmful traditional affect the rights of children and impede the empowerment of women. She informed them that her organization addresses women and children's rights, traditional practices as well as violence against women and called on the men to support women's empowerment.
Dr. Touray also advised women not to condone violence but to speak out to put an end to the cycle of sexual abuse against women and girls.
Oustass Saikou Fayinke of Basse Manneh Kunda said female genital mutilation is not a Sunnah or a Farata on women and girls, but a mere tradition.
Fayinke enlightened participants on the misinterpretations that FGM is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He informed them that non-Muslims who converted to Islam were not asked to cleanse themselves by practicing GM. The workshop created awareness on CEDAW,
Meanwhile, GAMCOTRAP has engaged sixteen government institutions, NGOs and community based organizations through the Multi-Disciplinary Task Force- MDTF in the Upper River Region, to create awareness amongst the members on GAMCOTRAP's work towards ending FGM in the region. The workshop held at the Regional Education Office in Basse ended with a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the partnership between GAMCOTRAP and the MDTF and called on GAMCOTRAP to provide the MDTF members with training manuals to facilitate community outreach for them. Some have committed themselves to sensitize their own family members as well as use the information in during their village meetings. It was also recommended to train the Technical Advisory Committee in the regions amongst other issues. The MDFT Coordinator in the region, Lamin Jaiteh thanked GAMCOTRAP for targeting the MDTF members for such an important partnership in the campaign to stop FGM and the protection of children.