Oct 27, 2015, 10:30 AM
In the Gambia, years of working together with grassroots communities has proven that we can achieve the goal of protecting girls from FGM and ensure that the environment is safe for girls to reach their full potential with their bodily integrity in tack.Reaching out to 1015 Communities in rural areas of the Gambia, 158 Circumcisers making public declaration through the Dropping of the Knife celebration is worth celebration.Such achievement has been taken to higher heights with a Specific law criminalizing and prohibiting FGM in the Gambia.
As the Gambia joins the world to celebrate Zero Tolerance day to end FGM, GAMCOTRAP, financed by the Italian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Civil Society partners, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Inter African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) take pride in bringing together delegates from the seven regions of rural Gambia to celebrate the achievement on a consultation to be conducted at the Independent Stadium in Bakau.Indeed rural people deserve to celebrate the day having been empowered with knowledge, information and skills to end the practice.They were there when the road was rough and tough.They realized that FGM is not a religious issue but a cultural practice and that culture is not static, together community members, Chiefs, village heads, women leaders, circumcisers, women and men, young and old came to consensus that girls need to be protected from FGM through enlightenment but also with a law to create a safe environment for them.
GAMCOTRAP is proud as a leading organization in the campaign to end FGM in the Gambia will partner with the Women’s Bureau with the support of the UNFPA Joint Programme to celebrate 2016 as a victory for the rural communities who have taken bold steps to make their voices heard loud and clear that indeed they can make informed decisions and all the genuine actors in the campaign to end FGM.It is the duty of the state to provide a safe environment for girls and women to be protected from all forms of violence including FGM and early and forced marriages.Through awareness, building capacity and solidarity Ex-Circumcisers have created a National Network with members from all the regions that have dropped the Knife working closely with their communities to protect girls, thus the need to celebrate.
As we celebrate the Zero Tolerance Day, GAMCOTRAP commends the state for taking its responsibility to enact a law that criminalizes and prohibits FGM in the Gambia.Special appreciation goes to the President of the Republic who after 21 years of research into this deadly practice made a pronouncement to ban FGM. This is a great achievement in fulfilling the Gambia’s international and regional obligation towards women and girl children. This is just the beginning, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the state and Civil Society Organizations take responsibility to educate the public about the content of the law and build the capacity of the relevant institutions to enforce the law in the best interest of the innocent girls.To achieve this we call on all to work together in mobilizing our people so that together we can achieve our goal.In this light GAMCOTRAP will on Zero Tolerance Day celebrate the event to activate and strengthen awareness-raising and advocacy activities, to spread information on the universal ban on FGM and its implications at the community and national levels as well as about the new legislation in order to contribute towards its effective application.
It could be recalled that on 23rd November 2015, His Excellency President Jammeh of the Republic of The Gambia issued a Presidential Proclamation banning female genital mutilation (FGM). Following this, on 28th December 2015, the National Assembly adopted the “Women’s Act Amendment Bill on FGM”. This is a historic moment in the decades-long fight against FGM in Gambia: now government representatives, parliamentarians, local authorities, women’s rights organizations, non–governmental organizations and other members of civil society are coming together to ensure the successful implementation of the law.
The UN System and International organizations should work closely with all the actors to popularize the Law and support their initiatives to further empower communities about the law.
We believe that FGM will be a fairy tale by the end of 2017. The new direction of engagement is to intensify the advocacy to address other forms of violence against women and girls in line with the sustainable development goals.
FGM is one of the most violent acts that is performed on girls and women, and since 1984, the advocacy to eliminate FGM in the Gambia has been progressing phenomenally. Circumcisers and their communities have been abandoning the practice and protecting their girl-children. The level of awareness is at its peak and the communities are aware of the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girl-children.
We take this opportunity to thank all the communities who took leadership to protect their children from FGM. We thank the UN System, the International Community and all donor partners for all the investments made to promote women and children’s rights; and to the Government of the Gambia for fulfilling its international and regional commitments by legislating against FGM.
We wish all stakeholders successful event.
Prepared by GAMCOTRAP