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Amnesty Int’l KM group holds forum on FGM with relevant stakeholders

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By Olimatou Coker

In a bid to promote awareness on dangers of FGM/C, Amnesty International KM Group recently organized a day-long forum with relevant stakeholders to remind the state of its responsibilities and duties in protecting people from harm.

Stakeholders believe the event will help them address the loopholes with relevant authorities about the value of human life.

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Amnesty International groups the Gambia is a global movement with ordinary members across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Their purpose is to protect individuals wherever justice, freedom and truth are denied.

Muhammad Hydara, president Amnesty International KM Group, highlighted the dangers of FGM.

“Female genital mutilation( FGM) is a harmful cultural practice that inflicts profound physical, emotional and psychological trauma on girls and women”.

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He said in  2015, the Gambia took a momental step by banning FGM which is a testament to our commitment to safeguarding the fundamental rights and dignity of all  citizens. However, recent discussions regarding the repeal of this ban have surfaced.

“Today marked a pivotal moment as we engage in crucial dialogue. Through open discussions, our goal was to highlight the severe repercussions of FGM, explore feasible alternatives, and reaffirm our resolute commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of every woman and girl in our communities.”

He urged all to unite to ignite change, break down barriers, and pave the path for a future where every individual, regardless of gender, can thrive free from the shackles of oppression and discrimination.

Mbassy Manneh, women and children’s right activist,  narrated some of the stories of FGM victims.

“Just yesterday, someone was talking about how an eight weeks old baby was subjected to FGM around Basse, and the baby bled to death. I do this advocacy as well with nurses. One of them asked me, ‘do you know why I am very active in this?’ I am from a cultural background. She told me one day she was at the hospital when they brought in a nine year old girl. She was cut. They couldn’t control the bleeding and took her to the hospital. Normally, before they take her to the hospital, they would use all means and if they cannot control it, they would take her to the hospital. And sometimes it’s very late. The child died just like that.”

Fatima Jarju, assistant at Think Young Women, a survivor of FGM, said she will not relent in her quest to change the narrative because she’s a victim.

“Is this about inequality? It is about power and it is about control. The motive is to marginalize women and girls in society for them to live up their sexuality, which I think in the first place is a very wrong act. And it is a barbaric act,” she said.

Babung Touray, a midwife at Fajikunda Major Health Center, who is also a victim of FGM, highlighted some of the consequences women encounter during labor because of FGM.

She explained that a normal labor can be from four to eight hours. “You deliver normal, but with scars, sometimes the woman can be fully dilated. You can see the head of the baby but how would it pass and that friction during prolonged labor can cause damage to the bladder tissue. The woman can bleed to death if care is not taken more.”

Modou Lamin Bah, NAM for Banjul North, said: “We  must try by all means to use what is called the mindset approach, we  must try by all means to let the community and the people make the decision. And that is us, the assembly members, we must talk to the people and make them understand.”

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