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‘Gambia holistic, respectful, leads FGM/C approach’

Feb 10, 2020, 12:22 PM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

Prof. Adriana Kaplan, executive director, Wassu UAB Foundation has revealed that 30 years of ethnographic research including the introduction of FGM/C in the academic curriculum in all health sciences studies among other achievements, The Gambia seems the first country in the world to have a holistic and respectful approach, evidence based and results oriented.

She added that the Wassu Gambia methodology has been replicated as a model in Kenya, Tanzania and is being implemented now in Casamance, Senegal.

Madam Kaplan made these remarks recently during the opening of the IV international forum on FGM/C in The Gambia organised under the framework of the EU funded project: “Evidence into Action- Applied Research & Knowledge Transfer for the Management and Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in The Gambia.”

Each year 6 February is commemorated as International day of Zero Tolerance on FGM/C.

The forum which brought together health professionals, tutors and students, judges and magistrates, policymakers, legislators, community and religious leaders, youth and women kafos is meant to share experiences and knowledge. This is based on recognition of the important role that proper and adequate scientific research can play, in efforts to end FGM/C.

The forum also is aimed at improving girls´ and women´s health, recognising their right to personal integrity and freedom, on the basis of social equality, contribute to the 5.3 Sustainable Development Goals to eliminate all harmful practices including forced marriage and FGM.

 “We know that prevalence still remains high globally and decline is much slower than expected, despite tremendous efforts have been done,” she said.

She added that The Gambia, with the last estimations being 75%, three in four women and girls have undergone the practice in the country. She pointed out that one of the major conquests has been the amendment of the Women’s Act banning Female Circumcision by the National Assembly in December 2015.

Prof. Kaplan noted that there is a social and cultural environment where FGM/C is an entrenched tradition, mixed with religious misconceptions and a social norm pushed by a gerontocratic society.

She further said that we must also consider new threats by the shifts in the practice like medicalisation, where according to their surveys; The Gambia is reaching over 10% performed by health professionals.