GAMBIA: 2nd ropping Of The Knife By Female Circumcisers Held In Basse

The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the health of women and children (GAMCOTRAP) which has been engaged in consistent grassroots activism and social mobilization through training and sensitisation activities to raise consciousness of men and women on the effects of FGM on the reproductive health rights of women and girl-child. It was confirmed that the organisation has worked closely with the communities through an empowerment process to be able to bring about change. As a result of the series of activities, the organisation has been able to register immense success leading to the first public declaration made by 18 circumcisers and 3 communities to protect their children from FGM on the 5 May 2007. The sustained advocacy engaging the duty bearers at the community level has resulted to yet another success story.

The second dropping of the knife event through a public declaration by 60 circumcisers and 351 communities in the Upper and Central River Region of the Gambia was held on the 5 of December 2009 at the Basse Mini Stadium.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief of Fulladu East Ahmed Minteh Krubally outlined that a meeting of such a kind is very pertinent. He said the importance of this sensitisation is what motivates guests from various communities to attend the occasion. He finally registered his readiness and his unflagging support for the campaign against FGM.
Addressing also the participants, the executive Director of (GAMCOTRAP) Dr. Isatou Touray noted that (GAMCOTRAP) is women’s rights NGO that promotes women’s social, political, economic and cultural rights and focuses on sexual and reproductive health rights.

She said the objective of their organisation is to carry out research into traditional practices that affect the reproductive health of women and girl children in the Gambia.

She adds that they identify and promote traditional practices that improves the status of girl children and women, and by creating awareness of the effects of harmful traditional practices on the health of girl children and women, in particular FGM, nutritional taboos, child/early marriage and wife inheritance etc.

Dr. Touray said the campaign is challenging but also satisfying hence communities are really responding to the need for change. She said (GAMCOTRAP) has worked in this region for over 20 years and a lot of changes have been realized.

Madam Touray also said with the support of various partners, the organisation has systematically and intensively worked closely with various target groups including; women leaders, women of reproductive age, circumcisers, traditional birth attendants, community and religious leaders, fathers, young people in and out of school, health workers, community based facilitators and other actors including mutli disciplinary facilitation teams in the region.
Madam Touray went far to say that one can only demand your rights when you know what rights you have, and can only execute those when you know for what purpose.

She said these circumcisers have been trained on small scale entrepreneurial skills to be able to manage small businesses in order to sustain their livelihoods. “It is prudent to leave them with a means while they abandon the practice.”

She said Macca Masireh and other communities have benefited from a milling machine project with the support of the federal republic of Germany. Mr. Rueben Mboge is the UNFPA Assistant country Representative who said this event is important as it marked the second dropping of the knife through a public declaration of circumcisers and communities to protect their children against Female Genital Mutilation. He said this public declaration will help keep alive the commitment to abandon these harmful traditional practices as a serious health and social consequences on the greater part of our population. He said UNFPA is committed to addressing female genital mutilation in a holistic manner by funding and implementing cultural transparent programmes for the abandonment of the practice. Mr Mboge said they also advocate for legal and policy reforms while building national capacities to stop all forms of female genital mutilation. He said UNFPA also supports treatment and care to women and girls suffering from its immediate or long term complications.

He said their partnership with (GAMCOTRAP) has been long standing. He said UNFPA is supporting (GAMCOTRAP) in their country programme that has been recently concluded. He concluded by saying that (UNFPA) will continue to support and encourage (GAMCOTRAP) in such laudable initiatives. Dr. Morisanda Kuyateh represented the Inter Africa Committee (IAC) on the occasion. Mr. Ousman Yarbo Director of TANGO and the National Assembly Member for Wuli East, all graced the occasion and all echoed the same sentiments.

SOURCE: Foroyaa Online

AUTHOR: Abubaccar Saidykhan

URL: Click here

DATE: 14/12/2009

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