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Gamcotrap Celebrates Zero Tolerance on FGM

Feb 9, 2009, 5:19 AM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

Female Genital Mutilation refers to any practice that involves the partial or total removal or alteration of the external female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

According to activists, the harmful practise is unhygienic and is violence against women. It is a violation of the human rights.

The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (Gamcotrap), in collaboration with Save Humanity Foundation (SAHFA), on Saturday February 6th 2009 celebrated the international zero tolerance day on female genital mutilation at a colorful ceremony held in Barra Lower Nuimi, North Bank Region.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr.Isatou Touray, executive director of Gamcotrap, said that the day is being celebrated across the world.

According to her, February 6 as the International Day on Zero Tolerance to FGM has come to stay and it will be a reminder to governments for their commitments towards accelerating actions to eliminate the menace.

She revealed that February 6th was unanimously adopted at the International Conference on Zero Tolerance to FGM organized by IAC from February 4th to 6th 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dr.Touray also used the opportunity to read a press release from the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) based in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

"To observe February 6, 2009 as the International day on Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) with her Affiliates and Partners across the world calls on Governments, Parliamentarians, UN Agencies, NGOs, the donor community, Religious leaders, Community leaders, Youth, communities and members of the Press to make a greater commitment to ensure the elimination of FGM".

The theme for this year's observation is "Political will at the Center of Achieving Zero Tolerance to FGM".

The objective of observing February 6th, the release added, is to draw the attention, at international and national levels to efforts that need to be exerted to free women and girls from female genital mutilation and to accelerate action towards its elimination by the set target date of 2010 according to the Common Agenda for Action or by 2015 being the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

By a conservative estimate, about 2 million women and girls are subjected to FGM worldwide with devastating consequences. Studies have shown a correlation between FGM and the high infant and maternal mortality and morbidity in African countries where FGM is prevalent. There is also clinical evidence that FGM presents a serious risk in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, especially among societies who practice it as an initiation rite using the same instruments on many girls at the same time.

"IAC success stories abound in communities in many African countries where its National Committees carry out interventions.  There are cases where whole villages, denounce and ban FGM following community mobilization strategy. Egypt, Ethiopia and Ghana are a few examples.

By the events outlined around the world, for February 6th, 2009, IAC and her partners are drawing global, national and community attention to the provisions in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of women (Maputo Protocol Article 5) and other UN Conventions which support the promotion of the Human Rights of women and children and the elimination of FGM".

Dr.Touray thanked the people of the area for the large turn and also applauded the coordinator of SAHFA, Mr.Muhammed Bangura, for his active participation in national development despite not being a Gambian.

The chief of Lower Nuimi, Fabakary Nana Sonko, commended Gamcotrap for choosing his district to host the important event.

The progrmme was attended by security forces from the area, school children and a cross section of the community.

The programme, which lasted for a whole day, was punctuated with presentations on issues such as FGM, violence against women and girls, early marriage, human rights, discrimination against women and girls and inheritance among others by the staff of Gamcotarp.

A video clips on the effects of FGM was also displayed and were followed by a question and answer session.