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Saturday, May 25, 2024

On female circumcision and female genital mutilation

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 Kaddy Manneh, Jabang: I used to strongly believe in female circumcision. I had a son, but no daughter. However, after a meeting with people from Isatou Touray’s group [Gamcotrap], I promised myself if I have a daughter, I will never put her through what I went through.  I didn’t know that most of the complications during childbirth are caused by circumcision. 


Mariama Jatta, FajiKunda: Female circumcision is very strong in my tradition. In fact, I took my daughter to circumcision last year. And next week, I will be taking my nieces to circumcision. We can never shy away from our tradition. My ancestors have practised it for thousands of years and I am going to uphold the practice.

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Isatou Janha, Bundung: I am from a tradition where female circumcision is not practiced. So I do not recognise it as a customary thing that women need to do. I believe whatever reasons others have for practising it, that will not change the fact that each woman needs good upbringing, equal opportunity and good education like the male children. If that is done, the potentials will be limitless in her future. If poverty outwits progress, lots of emphases is put on tradition or culture. So I will rather give my daughter these things than take her to circumcision.


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Wury Sallah, Serekunda: My forefathers used to practice this. But I do not have the need for it. I will not subject my daughters to this uncivilised act. 


Ebrima Sidibeh, Bakau: I am a Muslim. I believe in Islam and Islam says female circumcision is not a strong virtue of the religion. So who am I to say it is. I think the people who are involved in this trend are not aware. We must stop such practices now and you [the media] should help us enlighten people


Momodou Gajaga, Brikama Madina: I think FGM is a good practice for women. According to some Islamic scholars, FGM has been practiced by the Prophet Muhammad. He is a prophet of Islam, and if the scholars are right, he will not engage in something that would harm the women.


Niumi Baldeh, medical student, UTG: FGM should be banned as it violates the rights of the girlchild. The practice can bring medical complications. The practice is dangerous as it constitutes a minor surgery which is usually performed by old women with little knowledge of surgical procedures.


Modou  Joof, reporter and blogger: I don’t support FGM because I don’t know about it. My tribe and my family don’t practice it. So I will not subject my child to it, especially having heard the implications. There is this UN declaration for states to criminalise it. We can live without it. We don’t have to put our young girls through some painful procedures.


Talibeh Hydara, poet, reporter: I believe there is too much politics in it. Women are powerful and their power is increasing. Anything they want to stop, if there is no politics in it, they can stop it. I have been reading a lot of articles, listening to radio talk shows, conventions designed, associations set up, all to fight FGM. But why is it still prevalent? Simply because when angnsignba (initiator) is convinced of dropping the knife, they do this in public but do not stop the practice. 


Fatou Touray, Bundung: For me, I support the president’s stance. If you want to engage in it, do it. If not, leave it.


Modou Jallow, Kotu:  I think the practice is traditional. So I am not against it. I have not heard anyone die from the practice.


Mamanding Sonko, Gunjur: Our forefathers have been practising FGM as they believe it to be a very strong part of our culture. The basis being that it reduces the sexual urge of young girls. But it is interesting to know that girls who are circumcised in Gunjur are the ones who most often get pregnant.  If truly FGM reduces a girl’s sexual urge, I see little sense in it. With my little knowledge in Islam, FGM is just the same as gum pricking. It can be abandoned just like how gum pricking and other practices have been abandoned.


Lamin Yarboe, Kwinella: Since I was a kid, I have never seen anyone in this country who claimed to have a problem because of FGM. However, now that medical experts are saying that the practice has some medical implications, there needs to be a dialogue between those who practise it and those who are working to stop it. When there are reasons that show that it affects people’s lives especially women, then it should be stopped.


Aminata Sanneh, Old Jeshwang: FGM is a harmful traditional practice that violates the rights of the girl child. It also affects them as they grow up to become mothers in society.  Women who are circumcised are more likely to have complications during pregnancy and child birth. FGM also denies women of the sexual pleasure that they are supposed to enjoy in their married lives.


Yusupha Bojang, Radio presenter, Bwiam: People have to do away with FGM. It is a very harmful traditional practice that is not helping the girl child. In the past, people usually practise it partly to help mould their children and inculcate certain cultural values in them. But now, it is possible to do those without resorting to FGM, especially when it is proven that FGM affects the children seriously.


Salifu Jarsey, child protection specialist, Unicef: As far as we are concerned, FGM is a traditional practice that we are trying to eliminate in partnership with CPA and others. It violates the integrity of the child’s body with future consequences especially when they get pregnant and have children. These consequences include obstructions during labour and prolonged labour which are results of fistula. These occur due to the scar created from the healed surgery on the clitoris. It constricts, instead of expanding the uterus when the baby is coming out. Fistula is a disease that occurs when the wall between the birth canal and the rectum is ruptured causing faeces to leak into the vagina and gives a very bad smell.


Fatou Bah, Kerewan, North Bank Region:I know people are doing it because they regard it as a cultural practice. Last month, we had a big gathering here in The Gambia, and all stakeholders were represented. The understanding is that it is a cultural practice. My view is that since it is harming people, it should be stopped, even though this will be a difficult battle to win. Some initiators use this as source of income hence they are continuing to practice it in private. They do this because they don’t want the general public to know that they are doing it.


Njundu Drammeh, Child Protection Alliance: FGM is not only a health issue but it is also a human rights matter. We should situate the discourse on FGM within the parameters of human rights. As the primary duty bearer, the state has the primary obligation to ensure that all children everywhere are protected from FGM.


Sise Sawaneh, Kanifing Layout: It is a cultural practice which should just continue. We found our grandparents doing this because they believe it reduces the sexual urge of young girls. Even though this may not be the case, cutting off the clitoris of the girls is something we should do.


Fatoumata Kanteh, Ibo Town: FGM should be discouraged because it affects women during delivery and urination and causes other sicknesses.


Mama Faal, Tabokoto: It has a lot of implications for women. Many Muslims who practice it attribute it to sharia. This is not right. It is not found anywhere in the Qur’an that girls should be circumcised. So the health problems during delivery make a compelling case for its abolition.  


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