Sep 28, 2011, 1:44 PM
The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), in partnership with AMAM - a women's rights organisation against female genital mutilation in Spain, recently conducted a sensitization meetings in ten villages and towns in Girona, in the Catalunya district of Spain.The 12-day bridge building visit was an opportunity to create awareness on women and children's rights, traditional practices and the Spanish government's protocol against female genital mutilation in particular.The participants were African immigrants, mostly Gambians from the Upper River Region and the Central River Region.There were also some Senegalese, Malian and Mauritanian immigrants amongst them.
During the sensitisation tour different issues affecting immigrants came out during the discussions, such as violence against women, disruption of girls education for marriage, practicing female genital mutilation amongst girls born in Spain, integration in Spanish Society amongst others.Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray, focused her discussion on women and children's rights, while the religious adviser to GAMCOTRAP, Imam Baba Leigh, enlightened the participants that FGM is not an Islamic obligation and scientific evidence has proven the harm it does to women and children.He also discussed the importance of partnership and the role of men as heads of the household.For her part, the programme co-ordinator of GAMCOTRAP, Amie Bojang-Sissoho, presented audio visual materials on FGM and the activities of GAMCOTRAP.The national co-ordinator of TOSTAN in The Gambia, Bakary Tamba, shared the TOSTAN approach to the elimination of female genital mutilation and the promotion of democracy.
It was emphasised that the Spanish law is against FGM and girls born in Spain are protected against the practice on them even if it is done to them in The Gambia. It is punishable by six - twelve years of imprisonment as well as the seizure of the children by the state.The bridge-building was an opportunity to update and inform Gambians in Spain about the efforts being made in The Gambia to stop FGM and other forms of violence against women and children that led to the Dropping of the Knife celebration in May 2007.They were informed about the Children's Act, and that The Gambia has signed and ratified, the African Protocol on women's rights in Africa along with other international conventions to protect women and children but there is no law against FGM in The Gambia.
There were meetings with the Catalunya Development Agency, the Secretariat responsible for immigration and the representatives of the Spanish Department of Religious Affairs. The objective is to give feedback on the meetings with Gambians in particular to the Spanish authorities and well as suggestion for the way-forward.The Gambian delegation made a courtesy call on the Gambian Consular in Catalunya Honorable Kassim Njie Dampha and were honoured with lunch and dinner by different Gambian and Spanish personalities.
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray, has proceed to Norway to present a paper on FGM under the auspices of Musu Kangbeng Kafo, a Women's group of Gambians in Norway.