TYW Program Manager optimistic about Enactment of Law to Criminalise FGM

With Rohey Jadama

Welcome to another edition of Children’s Corner. In today’s edition, we are featuring Mrs. Musu Bakoto Sawo Mrs. Sawo Cessay addressing participantsCeesay, one of the panelists at the Girls’ Agenda’s Summer Camp for Girls with the theme “Empowering Girls to end FGM” which was held in Manduar Village in the West Coast Region.

Musu, a child and women rights activist, is a Lecturer at University of The Gambia Law School and also serves as the Program Manager at Think Young Women (TYW), a youth organisation advocating against harmful traditional practices affecting the wellbeing of women and girls in the Gambia,  such as Female Genital Mutilation and Child marriage, among others.

She was also a former member of Voice of the Young under the auspices of the Child Protection Alliance and a founding member of Children and Community Initiative for Development(CAID). She will be talking about FGM and Child Marriage.

With regards to Female Genital Mutilation and Child marriages the fight has been on for more than 30 years but that the campaign has now changed as it is the young people who are at the forefront to ensure that there is an end to these barbaric practices in the name of culture, tradition and religion. Over 75% of women in The Gambia have undergone FGM. The level of CM is at 36%. For a country with a population of 1.8 million, this is alarming! We have had so many stories justifying how Islam promotes FGM and Child marriage and the misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Quran by scholars, but I think an end to this problem would be that we the women in this country should try to understand exactly what the Quran states as far as these issue are concern and not to rely solely on those who can interpret it different against women. This can help us in our education and advocacy to prove our points.

The fight will go on regardless of the challenges that we are facing as   activists. The Gambia is a signatory and has ratified many international and regional conventions that protect women and girls against harmful traditional practices such as child marriage, betrothal, FGM etc. Regardless of all these challenges and for the fact that we don’t have a specific law that prohibits FGM; regardless of the fact that we have beautiful laws that had been put down on paper but in practice have not been implemented; regardless of the fact that we have so many conflicting laws as far as the different laws of the Gambia are concerned, we are going to continue with this fight and we’re hoping and optimistic that as time goes on we would have a particular law in place that does not only protect women from FGM but also ensure that issues of child marriages are also things of the past.

The struggle continues and at the end of the day it is the collaborative efforts of everyone that matters, no single agent can make the change that we desire. The battle continues but we have to show commitment, sacrifice, hard work and studying very hard because education is the basis behind every successful woman that you see.

At the end of the day, everything comes out of education and I don’t believe in the phrase that the “Sky is the limit”. To me the sky is the spring board. There is no limitation on the way that one goes. The pace and the platform have been set and created. It is the duty of the participants to take the fight to another level.