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Highlights of the 2nd public deceleration on FGM

Dec 11, 2009, 12:12 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

Basse mini stadium in the Upper River Region was last Saturday stormed with people from all walks of life to participate in GAMCOTRAP organised 2nd public deceleration on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The circumcisers were drawn from three hundred and fifty one communities in the Upper and Central River Regions.

Sarjo Damba an ex-circumciser who was among the first group of circumcisers to dropped knife pledge that she and her colleagues will not practice FGM again having known its full effects on the girl child. She told the new comers that for her, she never regret dropping the knife and is hopeful that they won’t also regret.

Mrs.Wulay Damba who just dropped the knife reaffirmed their commitment to the pledge adding that over the years they have learnt a lot about FGM. "We are dropping the knife today for the benefit of our children," she said.

Ms. Inge Lise Ihlen from Norway said that her country doesn’t have the custom of FGM but is now grappling with its effects as a result of migrants including those from The Gambia.

Ms. Albert Valea representing her group from Spain also spoke of their relationship with GAMCORAP.

The historic occasion was chaired by a renowned women figure Mrs.Nyimasata Sanneh Bojang. Madam Bojang used the opportunity to commend the Gambian leader Sheikh Prof.Yahya Jammeh for creating an enabling environment for Gambian women to exercise their rights in all spheres of national development. She thanked GAMCOTRAP for being  in the forefront in the crusade against FGM for the past two decades with respect, dialogue and sensitisation.

Dr.Morisanda Kuyateh of Inter-Africa Committee (IAC) told the gathering that Africa needs only one more Dr.Isatou Touray to completely eradicate FGM on the continent.

Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, the Head Chief of Basse Hammeh Minteh Krubally applauded GAMCOTRAP for their efforts and creating the much needed awareness among rural communities. He described the day as a very important event. He praised GAMCOTRAP for the way and manner they handle the subject. "Before people do not attend this type of meetings but if you see this huge crow here is because then there was lack of understanding but today because of GAMCOTRAP we are gathered here in our numbers" said the chief of the host district.  Aja Binta Sidibeh of ADVAC delivered the vote of thanks and commended the women for voluntarily stopping the practice of FGM in their communities.

The event ended with presentation of certificates to the district chiefs in the area and ex-circumcisers accompanied with cultural display.

It could be recalled that in May last year, GAMCOTRAP organised the first ever-public declaration on FGM during which 18 circumcisers from 63 communities dropped the knife.

After relinquishing the practice, circumcisers took an oath that they would not practise the FGM in their life again.

Meanwhile, the oath taken by the ex-circumcisers read: "We the circumcisers of The Gambia representing our cluster villages in the Central and Upper River Regions of The Gambia hereby present today at the Basse Stadium solemnly declare to the world and in particular The Gambia that we have stopped the practice of female genital mutilation in our communities, we have over the years received information through the training and advocacy works of GAMCOTRAP on women's health and have equipped knowledge about the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and the rights of the child. Having been empowered with the right information, we hereby publicly declared that we shall never involve ourselves in the practice of FGM again; we take leadership and responsibility in protecting and promoting the best interest of the girl child."