Numerous studies have shown that Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a harmful traditional practice which brings untold sufferings to the girl-child. Many countries have banned the practice by implementing laws to end it completely. These laws criminalise the practice.
In The Gambia, the practice was outlawed as far back as 2015 when a law banning it was promulgated. But it was only recently that three women were successfully prosecuted and fined heavily for circumcising eight girls. The girls were said to be between the ages of four months and a year.
The circumciser was said to be among a group of women who vowed, back in 2013, to drop the knife and never practise FGM ever again. She was given training among other women to have an alternative income generating venture instead of the practice of FGM. In addition to that, she was given a bakery and her son trained to run it so that she could earn a living through it.
Nevertheless, it seems that she went back on her word and continued the practice. It was recently discovered that she circumcised eight girls and was dragged to court where she was found guilty as charged and fined a hefty amount of money.
This is a huge win for Gamcotrap who spearheaded the prosecution of the three women. The government should indeed be encouraged in this regard so that the fight against this menace is given new impetus to ensure that this harmful practice is eradicated in the country.
It is also worthy to state that all actors in the fight against FGM must bear in mind that prosecution is just one of the ways to fight against it. As it involves cultural beliefs and norms, sensitisation and awareness creation should be engaged in vigorously.
This particular case also reveals that surveillance and monitoring of all the traditional practitioners of FGM must be heightened as it has revealed that the outward denouncement of FGM does not always translate into reality. This is why the said lady took the resources of the institution, benefitted from training and yet continued to do what she was doing.
Gamcotrap must therefore be commended and encouraged to continue the good work they are doing. As the successful prosecutions increase and are reported so will the practice decrease as people will know that they are risking everything when they indulge in this practice.