By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
Dr. Isatou Touray, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare has disclosed that a study published in Lancet by WHO in 2016 showed that women who had female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice.
Dr. Touray composed these remarks while presiding over the official opening of the 3rd international forums on FGM/C in The Gambia, organized by the Wassu Gambia Kafo (WGK) at a forum held at a local hotel in Brufut, from the 5 to 6 February.
The aim of the forum was to explore strategies, share experiences, success stories and good practices among people from Africa and Europe in efforts to promote the abandonment of FGM/C with the objective of improving girls’ and women’s health, recognizing their right to personal integrity and freedom on basis of social equality.
The health minister noted that serious complications during childbirth include the need to have a caesarean section, heavy bleeding after the birth of the baby and prolonged hospitalization following delivery.
She said the study showed that the degree of complication increases according to the extent and severity of FGM, thus this is why the practice is a serious concern for the government of the Gambia.
“In 2016 after the ushering in of the Barrow government, he reiterated his commitment to uphold the law banning FGM and renewed his commitment to enforce the law to protect the young girls from harmful practices such as FGM,” she stated.
In his remarks, the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Attila Lajos, said FGMC/C has been a criminal offence in The Gambia since 2015, but it will take more than a change in law to eliminate this harmful practice.
He said the overall prevalence of FGMC lacks up to date reliable data, but is estimated at 76.3% meaning that it affects approximately 3 out 4 girls and women.
The EU is supporting the Government of the Gambia and civil society to strengthen the rights and empowerment of girls and women in many sectors, he said, adding that the EU has allocated 135 million Euros as direct budget support for the government over the period of 2017-2020. According to him, so far, 50 million euros, nearly D3 billion have been disbursed into the treasury of The Gambia government.
Ousman Sillah, NAM for Banjul North, acknowledge the good work being undertaking by Wassu Gambia Kafo and assured them his full support to improve the health condition of women and girls.