By Fatoumatta K Jallow
In a bid to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country, GAMCOTRAP in partnership with UNFPA, on Saturday, 2 July, 2016, trained 52 people from the rural and urban areas to enhance the capacity of new anti FGM actors to end FGM.
The three day workshop is under the project title “Accelerating the Abandonment of FGM in the Gambia” Promote and Sustain Legislation Banning FGM.
In her opening statement, Fatou Kinteh representative of UNFPA and gender focal person said due to the cultural sensitivity surrounding FGM, discussing it in homes and communities used to be a taboo. “Today the issue has become a household word in the Gambia,” she said. This is a big achievement which is as a result of rigorous advocacy, social mobilization, community engagement, training and sensitization involving policy makers, legislators, health workers, traditional and religious leaders amongst others, he said. “We will not be complacent, instead we will use the best practices and lessons learnt from our previous interventions to introduce more innovative approaches which will speed up the total abandonment of FGM in the Gambia,” she stressed.
Madam Kinteh noted that over the years they have seen an increase in the number of actors engaging in social mobilisation efforts geared towards the abandonment of FGM, more so following the ban and the legislation against the practice. Describing it as a positive move, she however said it requires proper coordination to ensure consistency in the work of all the partners. She added, “more progress is expected with the coming of the legislation, there is more work for all of us now more than ever before in popularizing the law while at the same time further creating awareness on the negative effects of FGM”.
FGM, she went on, has devastating reproductive health consequences for women and girls in addition to being against their human rights. “In an effort to protect the health and rights of women and girls, in December 2015 The Gambia joined 26 other African countries that have banned FGM through legislation,” Madam Kinteh added.
According to her, UNFPA in its commitment to protect the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, will continue to support social mobilization efforts on the harmful effects of FGM/C as well as popularizing the anti FGM Law throughout the Gambia engaging all the actors. A total abandonment will be ensured using this approach, she concludes.
According to GAMCOTRAP officials, after many decades of work in the Gambia, they have an added opportunity of furthering their campaign to eradicate FGM in the Gambia as the country joins many other countries that have enacted a law against FGM. Since its inception in 1984, GAMCOTRAP worked to achieve systemic change that address violence and discrimination against girls and women, with focus on addressing harmful traditional practices such as FGM, early and forced marriage amongst others. The organisation uses grassroots activism using international, regional and national human rights instruments to create awareness about the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, children. This has resulted to 158 ex-circumcisers and 1015 communities dropping their knives and thus ensured great benefit to the girls, women and the community at large.