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City of Banjul
Friday, September 18, 2020

Women reveal stories of betrayal, repression and abuse

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This was after the women’s rights NGO, Gamcotrap, engaged them in Brikama in the weeklong programme on women and children’s rights through a Save the Children funding. The training targeted community based facilitators, women leaders, women of reproductive age, traditional communicators, circumcisers, traditional birth attendants and youth. 

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Sohna Cham, Brikama Nyambai: “Had this training been conducted earlier, I myself would not have undergone FGM and my girl children. I was not aware that FGM was not a religious obligation but now I know everything concerning FGM and I will not take any of my girl children to undergo such a harmful practice. I am a wollof and we hardly do this practice but I was raised in a different community that is why I was mutilated and with this training, I am equipped to desist from FGM.”

 

Sirreh Jatta, Brikama Kunta Kinteh urged women to be educated and know their rights. “There was a lady who was working very hard, but she was approached by her husband to join accounts with her. She agreed to the proposal and the husband later passed away. By the time she realised what has happened, the husband registered the account on his name. When she went to the husband’s family to claim for her share, she was not given anything and now she is in a dilemma and couldn’t get her money back while the husband’s family is enjoying her resources by building luxurious houses.”

 

Kaddy Marong, Brikama Hawla Kunda challenged women to put aside their differences in their marital homes and be united. “The differences which men bring between their wives is mainly caused by women themselves because, if they put aside their differences, then their husband will not have any possible way of making one superior than the other, so the wiser we women are, the more peaceful we can make our homes.”

 

Fatou Saidy, Brikama Nyambai affirmed that the discussions were important as it availed them the opportunity to know their rights and responsibilities as women.

“No one wants to fall victim to such a painful practice of FGM. Women are not educated and because of various cultural beliefs, we have been facing many difficulties. But I believe from now on, this will avail us the opportunity to learn more and it shall become a thing of the past.”

 

Jarryba Bojang, Brikama Nyambai, urged for the equal treatment of differently able persons. “There was a young girl who was mentally disabled during childhood. We always distance ourselves from her, but she was later taken care of and educated. She is currently working as a civil servant and living a decent life as well as helping her family.”

 

Aja Yassin Touray, Brikama Sanchaba asserted that some physically challenged children are marginalised. “I sell at a garage and I see different types of people. I saw a child who was only 2 years of age, but he was always dumped at the market and was never taken care of. When I went to meet his family to advise them to change their behavior towards the child, his parents never considered my advice and the child’s situation has become worse and he goes everywhere now. I have seen people who were like him and are now doing great things than people who were born normal.”

 

Nyorka Janneh, Brikama Sanneh Kunda enunciates that: “There was a premature child who many of us were calling a witch because of her look but now she is enrolled in one of the leading schools and she is doing extremely well in her education. This came as a surprise to many of us.”

 

Hawa Kambi, Brikama Hawla Kunda shared a depressing story that happened to her sister. “When I heard the discussion, I dropped tears because my sister was deceived by her husband. She struggled all day to build a compound in Farato, after completion she asked the husband to transfer. The man accepted but not knowing he had the intention of marrying a second wife. The husband later took the compound documents and registered it on his name. When the husband passed away they found out that the house was registered on the husband’s name, my sister could not take the pain and regret, then she also passed away.”

Speaking earlier was the executive director of Gamcotrap, Dr Isatou Touray, who advised the women to back the campaign to end female genital mutilation, arguing that it is not a religious obligation. 

She added: “Women are faced with many challenges because of their vulnerability and lack of awareness of their rights and responsibilities. FGM has been in existence before the coming of Islam. Women are left behind in many aspects even though they have the privilege, knowledge and opportunity but they underestimate themselves to assume leadership roles and to some extent their rights are violated because they are not aware of the rights entitled to them. 

“We should do away with cultural beliefs that exempt the girl child from acquiring education. It is their fundamental right to be educated while the government and parents also have a role to play.”

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