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Friday, April 19, 2024

Gamcotrap concerned about anti-FGM rhetoric

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Dr Isatou Touray, the head of the women’s rights group, told religious leaders from The Gambia, Guinea and Mauritania at a two-day regional forum aimed at engaging religious scholars towards ending FGM in The Gambia as well as outlawing the practice with a proposed law on FGM in The Gambia.  The two-day event was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.  

“They have also thrown defamatory statements at the work we do to support government’s commitment and  policy to end FGM in The Gambia. This sends the wrong signals to those who are yet to be empowered to drop the knife to continue cutting their children in the name of Islam,” she said while urging scholars to gain required information to protect their children from this harmful practice.

According to the Gamcotrap chief, the aim of the regional dialogue is put an end to misconception about Islam and FGM and form a correct perceptive on FGM and Islam.  The interface with scholars from Guinea, Mauritania and The Gambia aimed to exhaust the various religious arguments while shedding light upon common misconceptions, the prominent women’s rights activist told the delegates.

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The meeting was told about the effects of FGM on women and children’s sexual and reproductive health rights and also strategies employed by other Muslim majority countries that have legislated against FGM.

“We must create dialogue that will disassociate FGM from Islam. We are here today because of the popular demand of the policy in addressing the misconceptions on the relationship between FGM and Islam and put the protracted debate on this subject matter to an end in an attempt to facilitate legislation against its practice,” Dr Touray noted.

She announced that more significant gains have been registered in the last ten years with a series of abandonments by circumcisers in various parts of the country. According to her, since 2007 about 128 circumcisers and 900 communities have abandoned the knife to protect their girls. “As we gained more resources and engage with various regions, this positive trend will continue to grow,” she said.

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Dr Touray further elucidated that the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in 2009 declared that he is not in support of the practice of FGM and advised those engaging in it to stop the practice adding: “In 2010, the National Assembly pledged to pass into law any bill that bans FGM after attending a workshop organized by Gamcotrap.

She said Gamcotrap has taken the initaives of coming up with a proposed law that seeks to outlaw FGM saying: “We hope the government will not reject it, in the interest of our suffering women and girls- children. It is one of the reasons why this dialogue is important, to clear the religious misconception that used as justification to continue the practice.

Also speaking at the dialogue was Fatou Kinteh, a representative from UNDP who said FGM is a human rights violation adding FGM is a gender-based violence that needs to be ended in all its forms, if we are to sustained economic growth and development. Gamcotrap and UNDP for the past years have campaign for the abandonment of FGM, she said adding: “Gamcotrap and UNDP continue to receive request from communities for abandonment of FGM/C in their communities. This workshop will serve as learning and sharing experiences that will also help in protecting the rights and wellbeing of the girls and women.” 

The UN diplomat said women and girls should not suffer from the consequences of FGM. The governor of West Coast Region, Lamin Sanneh, said women and children’s rights issues are human rights issues, saying that he is aware of the crusade against the FGM.

Others speakers include Mrs Nasaha Kofoworola, director of Save the Children West and Central Central whose NGO funded the dialogue thanks Gamcotrap for championing the course of women and children, urging them to keep up the good work in order to eradicate the practice of FGM.

Author: Sainey MK Marenah


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