May 24, 2011, 2:46 PM
Gamcotrap through European Union support under the Non-State Actors Strengthening programme on 8 June 2011 completed a three-day capacity building training for female circumcisers on the eradication of FGM through rights education at the Forestry Conference hall in Janjangbureh.
The civil society organization has continued to raise awareness on the dangers and effects of harmful traditional practices on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children.
The meeting, according to officials, was aimed at raising awareness of female circumcisers for them to take their rightful positions as parents in supporting and promoting the rights of women and children across the region.
Participants at the forum took part actively and contributed immensely during the course of the session.
Speaking at the ceremony, Amie Bojang-Sissoho, Gamcotrap Programme Coordinator-IEC, underscored the significance of the forum.
She added that promoting human rights and the rights of women through right education approaches is a commitment signed by various African states including The Gambia.
According to Mrs Bojang-Sissoho, the project would also facilitate the popularization of the Women's Act 2011 and the Children’s 2005, with specific emphasis on awareness creation in the fight against harmful traditional practices such as FGM, early and forced marriages among others.
During the discussions, participants frankly shared their experiences and gave testimonies of some of the issues affecting sexuality and other harmful traditional practices that happen within the region and other parts of the country.
Tandi Yaffa, a circumciser from Karantaba Tenda, spoke on the reasons for sealing of the girl child to prevent girls from loosing their virginity and from getting pregnant outside marriage.
However, participants shared information on the impact of sealing girls and case studies were also discussed. A participant narrated that “last year a man complained about marrying a girl who was sealed and for three months and could not conceive, when this man approached her with this problem; he was advised to take the wife to visit the circumciser to remove the seal, which was a double suffering for the girl."
One of the concerns raised was common infection among women locally called "seketo". Gamcotrap advised that such cases should be taken to the hospital for treatment and cure.
For her part, Kaddy Touray, field coordinator at Gamcotrap, said reproductive health rights for women and girl child should be protected to ensure they are free from all complications caused as a result of FGM and other forms of traditional practices.
According to her, there are very good and important traditional practices that need to be promoted and preserved for the future ones to inherit but was quick to say the harmful traditional practices must be discouraged as they pay no dividend to society.
Omar Dibba, youth programme coordinator at Gamcotrap, stated that children’s rights are non-negotiable rights that need to be preserved, promoted and protected for the benefits of the nation.
It is the responsibility of all parents and guardians to ensure the basic needs of children are provided and children are protected from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation, he said.
According to Mr Dibba, children are being harassed, exploited and abused by not only foreigners but also their own relatives thus making the situation very complicating.
He added that there are provisions in the criminal code and the Children’s Act 2005, relating to the protection of children from sexual abuse and other forms of harassment that can retard the child’s physical and psychological development, including harmful social practices.
“The laws of The Gambia have created a protective, safe, warm and loving environment for all children to live freely without harm within the context of the laws of the country,” he said.