By Rohey Jadama
The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Fund (UNFPA), Mr. Boureima Diadie, in a statement read on his behalf by Mrs. Fatou Kinteh, UNFPA Program Officer, he said female genital mutilation (FGM) prevalence is 74.9% in the Gambia.
This was said at a forum organized as part of the 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence (GBV) held at the Paradise Suites Hotel on Saturday, 6th December, 2014.
He further revealed that the highest recording is in Basse while the lowest is registered in Banjul.
The UNFPA Rep said this shows that thousands of girls continue to undergo the practice throughout the Gambia and that FGM leads to devastating health and psychological effects for some of the victims as the effect continues to haunt them throughout their lives.
“In the past, it formed an important part of the rite of passage where adolescent girls were prepared for marriage. Today, the age at which FGM is performed varies from area to area and culture to culture, it is performed on infants as young as seven days old, on children 7 to 10 years old and on adolescents, some adult women also undergo the operation at the time of marriage. Since FGM is performed on infants as well as on adults, it can no longer be considered as part of a rite of passage into adulthood or in preparation for marriage,” said the UNFPA’s Resident Rep.
He added that harmful traditional practices persist in an environment where women and girls have unequal access to Education, Wealth, Health, and Employment. The “He for She Campaign” which this workshop is using for the elimination of FGM, added the UNFPA Rep, is a solidarity movement for gender equality in which men take the lead to address the inequalities and discrimination against women and girls. It brings men to support women for the benefit of all and this is because Gender inequality is an issue that requires the participation of all.
For his part, Mr. Njundu Drammeh, a Board member of Think Young Women, said the way a girl dresses is not a license for rape, adding that Gender Based Violence is not only disheartening but is cruelty. He noted that “when we stand for women, we are standing for equality, equity and, justice.”
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines, Yassin Nyan of Think Young Women, said the issues affecting women in all parts of the world are similar but that when you come to the local context there are some differences. She said this was the reason why Think Young Women organisation has adopted a local theme “We Men together against Gender Based Violence”.
She said they are implementing this programme with support from UNFPA and together with their partners Save Hands for Girls. She said the main topic for this forum is FGM.
“We are decentralizing to make sure we bring everybody on board and make sure the information is disseminated because most of this violence occurs in the rural areas and we have always engaged people of the rural area on Gender Based Violence. There is a campaign going on which seeks to involve men in Gender issues because they are our partners in development and that most of the violence against women are perpetrated by men,” said Ms. Nyan.
Sait Matty Jaw, a Technical Adviser of Think Young Women, gave the vote of thanks.