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City of Banjul
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Will you circumcise/mutilate your daughter? Consider why we are all better off as a human race if you didn’t!

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When the individual Starfish Mentors that went to the National Assembly to join in contributing to the discourse on not repealing the law prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, came with horrendous reports of being met with fanaticism and mob mentality in supporting this extremely harmful and completely unnecessary practice, Starfish International decided to further strengthen its staff with even more knowledge about the critical issue of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C at a campus wide gathering yesterday.

Recognizing the power of knowledge, we are even more committed to educating our community about FGM/C by providing comprehensive information on its definition, types, and associated complications. To start off our gathering, we studied diagrams on the female reproductive system and described the 4 different types of FGM/C so that we all knew what we were talking about.

During our discussion, we were honoured to have FGM/C survivors share their experiences, shedding light on the profound impact this practice has on women’s lives. We were equally honored to have a Starfish Alum and a nurse who has offered her services of free examinations for any girls who want to know what type of FGM/C has been performed on them.

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Shocking stories emerged, revealing an instance in which a husband attempted to remove his partner’s “seal” during intercourse, and women were subjected to painful procedures just to comply with these societal norms.

One survivor shared a particularly harrowing account, highlighting the severity of her sister’s harrowing experience which led to her journey of receiving medical intervention instead of having to follow in the footsteps of the traditional practitioner using a blade and no anaesthesia to unseal victims. Complications such as severe menstrual cramps, episiotomies during delivery, Cesarean sections, and infections were common among survivors’ stories, leaving many in the audience stunned by the gravity of these effects.

In a heartwarming display of solidarity, male participants expressed their determination to protect their daughters from FGM/C. One father shared his realization of the harmful effects after the discussion, vowing to educate his family and community to prevent any future harm to his daughters.

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Our discussion concluded with Aunty Yassin’s inspiring story of how her father fiercely protected her from FGM/C, demonstrating the power of parental love and advocacy. Prepared with knowledge and support from her family, she bravely faced societal pressures and threats.

As we reflected on our dialogue, we invited each member of our audience to consider whether they would allow their daughters to undergo FGM/C. The overwhelming response was a resounding “NO!” as participants expressed their commitment to safeguarding the well-being of women and girls.

Our approach continues to be: -grassroots education.

-presenting the facts and letting each individual reach their own conclusion and make their own decision.

-helping each person that reaches the logical conclusion of not subjecting any human being to such unnecessary pain, come up with an actual realistic plan as to how they will fight it and protect families, especially women and girls.

-helping advocates practice having the conversation, be it with family, religious leaders or fanatics that are confused about our culture.

Finally, for those in the throes of this test in our current cultural context, we humbly suggest:

-having one’s daughters always be with people that will protect them until they are old enough to protect themselves,

-raising one’s voice even if you face opposition or don’t think you’re being heard,

-having men be equally powerful advocates for the abolition of this harmful practice,

-helping people be able to identify reliable sources and do their own independent research on the subject.

So, join us in our mission to end FGM/C, educate our communities, and protect future generations from harm. Together, we can make a difference.

Starfish International

My thoughts on circumcision

Dear editor,

My suggestion is that children (male or female) are not subjected to the practice of circumcision. Let them be allowed to grow old enough to be able to make the choice of performing the cultural or religious rite to themselves according to their belief in it as adults. I base my argument on the religious story that Prophet Abraham (aleihi salaam) did it to himself as an adult. What better example to follow! We know that even in our Gambian culture, circumcision was not done to babies, until recently. It was done in the teens or even older among some ethnic groups. It was a matter of not just cutting but a whole initiation rite into manhood or womanhood during which time the circumcised are kept in the bush for a period of at least four months to heal and be educated in the social mores. To date, to tell somebody that they’re not circumcised in the Gambian languages is an insult meaning they’re not cultured. That rich tradition of initiation has been abandoned and replaced by the cutting of innocent babies who are too young to learn anything of the culture. It’s much worse for the baby girls whose organs haven’t developed well enough for the untrained surgeons to cut them properly and in some cases seal their organs allowing only urine to pass. Such a practice often goes so wrong that even urine can’t pass easily. Worse still, on the day of their marriage, they have to be crudely cut open again and forced to have sex like that until it heals. That’s very callous. If they don’t have sex frequently in those first days of marriage, the tract is sealed again. I think this is a very harmful and heartless practice. Since Islam is not very keen on it, it’s better to abolish it. I don’t mind the legislation about it. Whether banned or not, people should stop hurting children. I think it’s fair for any adult to do it to themselves. After all, adults in many cultures do pierce their body parts for beautification or other reasons. That’s OK with me, and I want circumcision to be done in such a context of free volition. Islam teaches, “there’s no compulsion in religion.” Ramadan Mubarak.

Facuru Sillah  

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