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Six Alkalolu Witness Sensitization On FGM At Bantanto

Jul 4, 2008, 6:11 AM | Article By: By Sarata J-Dibba

Six Alkalolu., Imams and council of elders were amongst over one hundred women and men who witnessed the training on sexual and reproductive health and the rights of women, in particular, the effects of female genital mutilation organized by GAMCOTRAP at Bantanto village in Central River Region- CRR. Participants came from Bantanto, Mabally Koto, Mabally Kuta and Sare Jibel in the CRR.

In setting the context of the training, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray explained to the gathering that her organization is not against cultures and traditions but to analyse them critically to come up with practices that protect the rights of women and girls. She noted the trends in perceptions on traditional practices are changing towards a positive direction as communities and families are protecting girls from FGM, early marriage amongst others harmful traditional practices, which led to the first national declaration of the Dropping of the Knife Initiative in May 2007. Dr. Touray highlighted the challenges of dealing with mobile circumcisers from Senegal who cross the borders into The Gambia to practice FGM, because there is no law in the Gambia to protect girl children against FGM.

Alkalo Fatou Danso of Kaba Kama who worked as a nurse midwife in the Upper River Region shared her experience on the effects FGM and early marriage has on women and girls.

Traditional communicators locally called Kanyelengholu created songs to support the campaign to stop female genital mutilation-FGM at bantanto. The relics of the songs are based on the messages on the effects FGM has on women and girls, women's rights and empowerment.

In his contribution, the head AIkalo of Fuladu, Kebba Kora of Bansang called for a stop to FGM and pointed out the need for a law to stop the practice. AIkalo Kebba Kora pledged to sensitize all the one hundred and thirty-two Alkalolu under his jurisdiction for them to be aware that FGM has serious implications on the sexual and reproductive health of women and work towards freeing their communities from the practice. He finally called on parents to educate their daughters and emulate GAMCOTRAP women as role models. All the speakers at the Bantanto training expressed their support to the campaign to stop FGM, including the council of elders of Bantanto village.

Speaking on behalf of the women of Sare Jibel, Chedo Jawo thanked GAMCOTRAP and asserted that FGM has nothing to do with Islam but was merely about jealousy. She called on women to protect their children from the practice. Similar sentiments were expressed by Jabou Janneh of Mabally Kuta and noted that they have observed the effects the practice has on women's health. In reiterating their support to the campaign, Penda Sanyang the Traditional Birth Attendant of Mabally Koto confirmed that their village circumciser, Adama Damba has stop practicing FGM and has the support of the community.

The training was highlighted with the public declaration to stop FGM by another circumciser in the CRR, Jainaba Kanteh of Mabally Kuta, and she received Five thousand Dalasi as support to start an alternative income activity. She was supported by her village Alkalo Alhajie Lamin Janneh, her family members and other village representatives.

Women Leaders in FONI trained on Female Genital Mutilation

Over twenty women leaders from Foni Jarrol, Bintang Karanai, Bondali and Kansala Districts in the Western Region had recently converged at Bwiam Lodge for a three days training on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls against harmful traditional practices.

In his welcome remarks the Alkalo of Bwiam, Musa Amul Nyassi expressed appreciation of GAMCOTRAP's role in national development and called on the women leaders to seize the opportunity to have direct access to information that can empower them and be prepared to share it with their followership.

In leading the opening prayers, Imam Alhajie Babou Ceesay of Bwiam prayed for peace, stability and a successful training programme.

The three days training supported by Forum Syd through NIYO amongst other things exposed participants to the different components of sexual and reproductive health issues women and girls are face with, clarifications on religion, FGM and women's rights, the International Conventions, Regional Protocols, National laws and policies ratified by The Gambia to promote the rights of women and children.

Emphasising on the important role women leaders can play in reaching out to more women to protect girls from female genital mutilation, early marriage and the promotion of women's rights, Dr. Touray enlightened the participants on the advocacy role of GAMCOTRAP for the advancement and empowerment of women and children. In responding to the call for step down community and district training in Foni, Dr. Touray pledged that all efforts would be done to get the required resources needed in reaching out to communities. "The pace has been set for total eradication of FGM, once the level of awareness on the effects of FGM is increased, community consensus to stop the practice is irresistible" she concluded.

The participating Foni women leaders reached consensus that FGM should stop and they all pledged to share the knowledge gained and would advocate for the eradication of the practice. It could be noted that this training was earlier preceded by training of over fifty Traditional Birth Attendants and female circumcisers from the five districts of Foni.