Jun 26, 2012, 12:23 PM
Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) on 13 January 2014
sensitised religious scholars on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at a daylong
workshop held at its head office in Kanifing.
The sensitization, a project on “creating awareness and documenting issues on the life stories of women on qiwamah and wilayah in The Gambia” implemented in collaboration with the New Field Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, dilated on various issues which included gender and knowledge seeking, consent to marriage and right to divorce, marriage by consent and inheritance, polygamy and maintenance, female leadership, polygamy and abuse, inheritance, gender and leadership, women and politics, child maintenance, inter-religious marriage, gender and political leadership, gender and mobility, FGM and religion, wife beating, female contribution to household, discrimination in marriage, gifts before death, no limitation to female education, women empowerment, sexual violence in marriage, household responsibilities, neglecting marital responsibilities, right to property in marriage, and family maintenance.
Gamcotrap executive director Isatou Touray, in her remarks on the occasion, began by welcoming the participants on the day which coincided with the birthday of the Prophet (SAW), saying in every forum they invite different people to spread the information “because if you are working on something and want to make changes and get positive results you have to share it with different people”.
She described their campaign as doing the work of Allah, adding: “We should work to make Islam alive for our benefit and the children.”
The campaign is not at all to negate Islam or discard the Gambian culture but to do the right thing, Dr Touray said, adding that none of the Prophet’s daughters was circumcised.
FGM has been in existence well before Islam but research has shown that it is affecting the lives of women, which they want to protect, she noted.
FGM has caused the end of some marriages, because some women would be given to their husbands and for a week or so the man would not be able to penetrate her not because he is not man enough but because of the negative effects FGM has on the woman, Dr Touray observed.
They have gone round the country discussing with women most of whom confessed the negative effects of the harmful practices meted out to them but feel shy to come out publicly to declare it, she stated.
For changes to take place people need to sit down and discuss, she said, adding that lack of knowledge on something can mislead people, describing knowledge as very important.
“Some things are caused by Allah but there are things caused by us human beings,” she says, adding that research has shown that some women die during child birth due to FGM.
“Knowledge is one but sometimes we fool ourselves,” Dr Touray highlighted further, saying the present generation is changing and people need to open their eyes “because if you are not in reality, you will end up regretting”.
The campaign is not a fight between men and women or ethnic groups but to figure out a better way of living for all, she remarked, while calling on people to organise themselves and educate their children since knowledge and education is redemptive.
Dr Touray also spoke about discipline, calling on Gambians to make correct and effectual changes.
Marriage is a sacrifice, she notes, urging the people to seek knowledge and spread it in the right way.
In her remarks, Madam Mary Small spoke on the effect of FGM, saying it can cause pain, severe bleeding, shock, urinary retention or infection to women during or after the practice.