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Security officers call for protection against FGM

Apr 1, 2010, 1:54 PM

Over sixty security officers from the Armed Forces, Police and Immigration have recently completed training on gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices at Pakalinding Lodge in the Lower River Region. 

In his address to the participants, the Governor of Lower River Region, Lamin Waa Juwara, commended GAMCOTRAP for their strenuous efforts in raising the consciousness of people on the effects of Female Genital Mutilation, on sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.  

Mr. Juwara expressed his personal commitment to stop FGM in his family and appealed to the people of the region to stop the practice. He called for support to the local community radio in Soma to reach out to the masses and educate them about the effects of Female Genital Mutilation and other harmful traditional practices.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief of Jarra West, Yaya Jarjusey, underscored the importance of the strategy GAMCOTRAP had undertaken under the leadership of Dr. Isatou Touray in raising consciousness towards the eradication of FGM throughout the country. He reiterated the importance of reaching out to all sectors of society and described security officers as important targets that have a role to play in the sensitisation processes. 

Chief Jarjusey reiterated the call to use the radio to enlighten the larger public. The Jarra West Chief appealed for support for alternative sources of income for the ex-circumcisers, to help improve their livelihood and protect girls from FGM.

In a brief remark, the Commissioner of Police in Lower River Region, Kemeta Sambou said that the training was an opportunity for the participants to listen and learn to be able to share the knowledge gained from the session with their colleagues.

On his part, the Chairperson of the Mansa Konko Area Council, Mr. Foday Camara appreciated the work of GAMCOTRAP in raising consciousness among different target groups, and in particular, the security officers, whom he said, have the responsibility to protect all, in particular girl-children. He called on the state to enact a law against FGM.

The Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray underscored the important role security officers play in creating a safe and conducive environment to protect women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence. She informed them that the training was the third in a series to reach out to as many security officers as possible. 

In his solidarity statement, the Director of ODAM ONGd, Mr. Alberto Valea, thanked the participants and informed them that his organisation is working with GAMCOTRAP in The Gambia and supports it on the campaign against FGM and other forms of gender-based violence in The Gambia. 

At the end of the training, he urged them to reflect on the decision taken. As he put it, it would either be part of the problem or be part of the solution.

At the end of the training, the security officers recommended that the state should enact a law against FGM.  They also called on GAMCOTRAP to use the state radio to reach out to the majority of Gambians.  Amongst their recommendations, is the call for more advocacy work to reach out to policy-makers, as well as community outreach in the communities.  

The training has empowered the security officers to make personal commitment to protect their own daughters and at the professional level to share the knowledge gained with their colleagues.

In his closing remarks, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Anthony Correa of Gambia Police Force at the Lower River Region acknowledged that they have been empowered with knowledge that will enable them to join the campaign. He advised them to disseminate the information on FGM and gender-based violence to their various units.

He argued that human beings evolve, and thus urged all and sundry to contribute to the change and give humanity a chance. 

ASP Correa concluded by expressing his appreciation for the facilitation and financial support from the GAMCOTRAP and ODAM ONGd, respectively.      

In his vote of thanks, on behalf of the participants, Jawando Jallow from the Second Infantry Battalion said the training has demonstrated that education does not only stop at the four corners of a classroom.