“It is absurd to discover that some health personnel are ‘medicalising’ FGM in The Gambia,” she said while addressing hundreds of women who gathered in Brikama on Friday February 6 to commemorate International Zero Tolerance Day for FGM.
The local theme for this year’s event was, “Mobilisation and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance for FGM”, which according to activists, is apt.
Dr Touray added: “Gamcotrap has discovered that some health-care providers circumcise girls in health facilities in the Greater Banjul Area. Some visit homes to circumcise girls. Women have reported the cases to Gamcotrap and we have followed up with the Ministry of Health because FGM has negative consequences on the sexual rights of women and girls.
“From all indication, the Gambian population is responding to the call to end FGM. It will be counterproductive, while communities are ending FGM, personnel of health institutions that should take a lead to advice on the health effects of FGM are engaged in using health facilities to practise FGM. It is a cause for concern in this 21th century to see health personnel practising FGM in health facilities in The Gambia.
“The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation should take appropriate steps to address this phenomenon. The WHO protocol should be popularised and all healthcare personnel should respect this. The situation is incredibly alarming.”
NAMs urged to pass law
Meanwhile, Dr Touray has renewed her call for the National Assembly to pass an anti-FGM law.
She decried: “Every second, minute, day, week, and month that the passing of a bill is delayed in parliament results in more and more innocent girl-children suffering because of FGM. The government has committed itself to ending FGM and this has to be respected by all state institutions. Commitment to advance the cause of women should not stop at signing conventions and protocols, but should also show political will and convictions by passing a specific bill prohibiting FGM.”
“We have seen National Assembly Members (NAMs) pass bills that have not been subjected to the rigorous debates the FGM bill has. It is assumed that the parliamentarians have a duty to their various constituencies who gave them the opportunity to serve the country as its lawmakers. It is therefore incumbent upon them to take their responsibility and not to hide behind culture and religious misrepresentation to continue a practice that has health, social and economic consequences for women and girls in particular, and for The Gambia as a whole.
“It is a highly held opinion that the issue of FGM is being politicised at the expense of the bodily dignity and integrity of women. This therefore requires effective participation of women in politics to influence laws that will bring positive change. More women should go for elective positions to be part of the law-making body that has the potential to carve a better life for the population. Women should take a stand to represent themselves and their fellow women and men. They should be the change they wish to see.”]]>