Report cites Gambia’s progress on FGM but…

A report titled ‘28 Too Many (2015) Country Profile: FGM in The
Gambia’, has acknowledged the achievements made towards achieving an
end to Female Genital Mutilation, while lamenting lack of a law
against the practice.“The movement to end FGM is gathering pace. Initiatives such as The
Girl Generation (a global campaign funded by the UK Department for
International Development (DFID) to support the African-led movement
to end FGM) are helping to ensure that the girls of today will be the
first generation whose daughters will not be cut. There are positive
stories coming out of The Gambia which give me hope that The Gambia
will reach the point where FGM will no longer be practised. Late last
year in The Gambia the first Youth Summit was held, after which Amie
Bojang-Sissoko said ‘At one point I felt we were losing our activism,
but now I feel it has been reenergised’.
The report added: “The Government holds an ambiguous position on
ending FGM. Though several actions have blocked aspects of NGO
programming, the Government is working with the UNJP towards
abandonment. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)
noted in January 2015 that ‘The Gambia was careful about legislating
against the practice of female genital mutilation because this would
drive the practitioners underground and it had in place a national
plan of action against female genital mutilation’ .This may be one
reason why there is no law. However, it is also known that as long as
religious leaders are opposed to ending FGM, the Government will
continue to be cautious on the issue. This Country Report on FGM in
The Gambia shows the 2010 national prevalence for girls and women aged
15-49 years is 76.3%. This is a two percentage point decrease from the
2005/6 figure. Extracts from the forthcoming 2013 DHS report show a
further drop to 74.9%. Rates for girls 0-14years are lower, but they
may still have FGM later in life. There is a slightly higher rate of
FGM in rural areas (78.1% women; 45.9% daughters) than in urban areas
(74.6% women; 38% daughters). The regional pattern is complex, but it
is highest in Basse (99% women, 71.5% daughters) and lowest in Banjul
(56.3% women – increased 11.5% in last 5 years; 24.4% daughters).Types
of FGM are mostly ‘flesh removed’ (Types I& II) for 67.9% women; 36.7%
daughters, although 5-7% of women and girls have ‘sewn closed’ (Type
III). There is a worrying trend to practicing on young infants, where
it is generally carried out on those under 10 years”.

The report maintained: “Encouraging stories from The Gambia are set
against a global scene where in excess of 125 million women and girls
alive today have experienced FGM in Africa and the Middle East, and 30
million more will be affected by 2025 – one girl being cut every ten
seconds. While FGM is practised primarily in 28 African countries
clustered from West Africa to Egypt and the Horn, it is also found in
parts of Asia and across the world among diaspora groups who bring
traditions with them on migration.FGM has no health benefits yet has
serious, immediate and long-term physical and psychological health
consequences, which can be severe, including post-traumatic stress
disorder, depression, anxiety and reduced desire for sexual
satisfaction. Babies born to women who haveexperienced FGM suffer
higher rates of neonatal death, and mothers can experience obstetric
complications and fistula. In The Gambia, there is strong in-country
evidence of medical complications caused directly by FGM. Globally,
reasons for FGM are highly varied between ethnic groups and
communities; it is a deeply embedded social practice associated with
adulthood, marriageability, purity and sexual control”.

Concluding, the report said:
“FGM will not be stopped in The Gambia by the end of 2015, though
it is nonetheless encouraging that the MDGs have ensured a persistent
focus on areas related to FGM. The post-2015 agenda will undoubtedly
provide renewed efforts to improve women’s lives. Additionally, the
African Union’s declaration of the years from 2010 to 2020 to be
the decade for African women will certainly assist in promoting gender
equality and the eradication of all forms of gender-based violence in
The Gambia”.
28 Too Many is an anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) charity,
created to end FGM in the 28 African countries where it is practised
and in other countries across the world where members of those
communities have migrated. Founded in 2010, and registered as a
charity in 2012, 28 Too Many aims to provide a strategic framework
where knowledge and strategies enable in-country anti-FGM campaigners
and organizations to be successful and make a sustainable change to end
FGM. It is building an information base including the provision of
detailed country profiles for each country practising FGM in Africa
and the diaspora.

New research on FGM released for International Women’s Day