GAMBIA: GAMCOTRAP Wants Security Agents To Stop FGM

Members of the country’s security apparatus have been called upon to put an end to the incidence of Female Genital Mutilation and other forms of violence against women and girls. This appeal was made at a training programme targeted at Security Officers in different regions of The Gambia organized by GAMCOTRAP under the UNFPA Joint programme to accelerate the elimination of FGM in Africa initiative. The training on gender based violence and harmful traditional practices targeted at fifty security officers in the Central River Region held at the Bansang Youth Centre.

In his welcome remarks, the head alkalo of Upper Fulladu West, Alhajie Kebba Kora of Bansang emphasized that the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation has come a long way because it has reached a stage where the participation of security officers is important. He noted that security officers have the right profile, mandate and legal status to protect children from being circumcised. Alhagie Kora expressed deep sadness on the plight of children who suffer the effects of FGM in latter life. According to him, FGM has no place in society and it should be banned.

The alkalo also applauded the interaction between the different security units and for them to work together to reach consensus to stop FGM. He called on them to disseminate the knowledge gained at the training programme with others who did not have the opportunity to attend.

Speaking further, the bansang alkalo noted that the security has a role to play in ending the suffering women and children go through because of FGM, noting that they also are parents. He also expressed appreciation for the resources invested in the training trying to protect children and thanked the government tor giving moral support to the process. He attested that for the last five years, FGM has lost the prominence which he associates with the consistent work GAMCOTRAP is doing in the region.

For her part, the executive director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray emphasized that as people learn about the effects of FGM and change their attitudes, it will ensure the protection of girl-children from the practice. According to her, the debate on FGM is about the promotion of moral justice, women's health and wellbeing. Dr. Touray thanked the Alkalo of Bansang for his support and commitment in the fight against FGM.

Also speaking at the occasion, Oustass Saikou Fayinke, religious adviser, informed the security officers that FGM is not mentioned either in the Quran or the practices of the Holy Prophet and his followers. While he urged participants to seek knowledge because education helps people to take decisions and desist from unnecessary resistance, Oustass Fayinke also called on Islamic scholars to heed the recommendations of health experts to protect women and girl-children from FGM and other harmful practices. He concluded that one cannot worship Allah properly without good health.

Reiterating the point of Islam and FGM, the representative of Supreme Islamic Council in Janjanbureh, Oustass Momodou Lamin Jorbateh emphasized that FGM is not an Islamic tradition, and that most of the arguments associated to FGM and Islam are basically to reduce female sexual desire. He also called on people to desist from harmful traditional practices such as early marriage and encouraged parents to discipline their children who are future leaders and to respect the rights of women.

Also addressing the participants, elected area councilor of Bansang Ward, Amie Ceesay who is also a retired Nurse highlighted the various examples of FGM-related problems and their impact on women's sexual and reproductive health. She called for awareness creation to contribute to the eradication of FGM.

Delivering the vote of thanks on behalf of the participants, Corporal Mankara Bakayoko of the Gambia National Army acknowledged that despite the misconception they had about GAMCOTRAP and the issue of FGM, they have been taken through a process and the training was beyond their expectation. He expressed appreciation of their various heads of units for identifying them to participate in the training. He concluded by thanking all for the knowledge shared and assured GAMCOTRAP of their support in the protection of women's rights.

Participants were exposed to religious, health and rights dimensions of FGM as they affect women and children, gender-based violence in the home and the larger society, as well as the need for dialogue between couples and other strategies to stop violence. They were exposed to the international and regional conventions and protocols to protect women and girls from FGM as well as national efforts geared towards the protection of girls from FGM and its impact on women. The security forces from the various units came to consensus that FGM should be banned.


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DATE: 22/04/2010

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