Mar 6, 2009, 3:38 AM
A one-day forum organised for members of the National Assembly Select Committees on health, women and children ended yesterday at the Baobab Holiday Resort in Bijilo.
The retreat organised by the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (Gamcotrap) was meant to serve as a forum of dialogue between Gambian lawmakers on female genital mutilation (FGM).
The meeting formed part of the process to consolidate the gains made on training and information campaign to eradicate FGM in the country, said Gamcotrap Executive Director Isatou Touray, in her address at the opening ceremony.
Remarking on the third workshop so far organised by Gamcotrap for National Assembly members, Dr Touray hailed the NA members for their 'commitment in the welfare of the people they represent" thus manifested in the passing of the Children's Act and Women's Bill.
"FGM is about health, human rights and wellbeing of women and girls," she said. "It is very important as lawmakers they are well informed of issues at hand to enable them make informed decisions. Putting in right policies is important for the advancement of any nation."
For his part, Hon. Momodou S. Touray, National Assembly member for Central Baddibou and also the vice chairperson of the select committee on women and health, described the forum as crucial."FGM is a deep-rooted culture but we cannot say it is religious," he added.
Hon. Mattar Kujabi of Foni Bondali hailed Imam Baba Leigh for "the work he is doing in the country" while encouraging him to continue "the good work". He further admonished the prominent scholar to give deaf ears to his critics, "especially when he knows what he is doing is the truth."
He also blamed some religious leaders in the country for playing double standards on the issue of FGM, challenging them to come out bold in saying the truth.
Nominated member Hon. Saikuna Sanneh gave a brief report of the parliamentary meeting he attended with his three colleagues sometime in May this year in Dakar.
The meeting, he explained, aimed at ending FGM in Africa, as it applauded all the countries that have banned the practice.
He also reminded his colleagues at the forum of the declaration they made in September last year to protect the welfare of women and children in the country.
Hon. Ebrima Manneh of Niani applauded Gamcotrap for their intervention in his constituency, which he said has started "paying off".
Hon. Sainey Jaiteh, in his contribution, said he reads Quran but has not seen any part where FGM is being mentioned, and vowed not to allow his daughters undergo it.