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FGM: should we “drop the knife” or hold on to it?

Jun 5, 2014, 12:32 PM | Article By: Halimatou Ceesay

The World Health Organization classification of“FGM defines type 1 “mutilation” as excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part of the entire clitoris.

According to (SITAN) report on FGM (1999) this type is the most frequently practised in The Gambia.

In this study all the operators interviewed voluntarily explained that partial or total clitoridectomy was the aim of the whole procedure.

According to the report, the operations are usually performed under the auspices of a traditional female in the village called “nyangsingbaa”. The “nyangsingbaa” or “mother of initiates” is consulted before a date is fixed and she plays the major role in organizing the ritual operation and the festivities. 

The operation is conducted by the “ngamano” who is also commonly referred to as a “nyangsingbaa”.  The “ngamano” is known for her skills and supernatural abilities.

The operation generally takes place in a clearing in the forests although this is changing rapidly, particularly in urban and pre-urban areas. 

The report also states that in Brikama, June 1999, over one hundred and twenty girls were operated on one morning by the same ‘ngamano’ or ‘nyangsingbaa’.

The report states that most Gambian women do not associate any diverse health effects with excision and do not believe that their sexuality has been in any perceptible way.

However immediate complications can include severe pain, hemorrhage, urinary retention and inadvertent injury to surrounding tissue.

Other complications include long-term complications purportedly include scar formation, dysparneuria (painful sexual intercourse) and narrowing of the vaginal opening.

It is believed that excessive scar formation can lead to lack of elasticity of the birth canal, which can result in prolonged delivery.

Interestingly, the report states that type III Mutilation or infibulations, which includes excision of the clitoris and labia minora as well as stitching of the labia majora, is not practised in The Gambia.

Interestingly, there are no substantive data on hospital admissions resulting from “FGM”. It also states that cases of death relating to FGM are unheard of.

The issue of FGM in The Gambia has been a delicate one as both the traditional circumcisers, women and human rights gender activists and our religious leaders cannot still come to terms with it as to whether it should be totally banned in the country or not.

Well, women and human rights gender activists in the country are requesting for FGM to be totally abolished in the country because they believe it is doing more harm than good to the girl child.

In the past years we have seen anti-FGM institutions in the country staging “drop the knife” campaign across the length and breadth of the country with some traditional circumcisers coming out to “drop the knife” they have been using for decades. The question is why are people still practising FGM?

Amie Jallow, a prominent traditional circumciser, travels all over the country to circumcise girls.

According to her there is nothing wrong with circumcising girls since each girl is entitled to her own knife or razor.

Amie Jallow is a household name in the country when it comes to female circumcision.

She has been doing it for decades and is among those who will never drop the knife but hold on to it forever.

Can we as people take our minds to lesbianism, which is not only bad but against the laws of nature and the continuity of the human race? “Girl to girl or woman to woman”, they would say.

The most important and sensitive organ used by lesbians is the clitoris which they used to rub against each other while doing the act.

That being the case, in a civilised African society, a society that is against lesbianism, the only remedy to stop lesbianism “can be female circumcision or partial removal of the clitoris”.

If the situational analysis of women and children in The Gambia (SITAN) November 2001 report on FGM does not rate FGM as bad as the women and human rights activists of the country are rating it, then should we ask our ‘nyangsingbaa’ to drop the knife or  hold on to the knife?

FGM is no child’s topic, it is very sensitive; therefore views and contributions as regards this topic and other issues affecting women and girls are highly welcome from readers of this column.