Gambia: 'Ending FGM is incredibly urgent'

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Coordinator of the Girl Generation of United Kingdom and Kenya Keli Kpognon has said it is ''incredibly urgent'' for the world to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

“It is estimated that over 125 million women in the world today have undergone FGM and 30 million more girls are at risk over the next decade on the African continent alone,” Kpognon told delegates at the end of Gambia 's first national youth forum on FGM Wednesday.

“FGM is a neglected issue internationally but it is of the gravest violations of human rights of our age,” Kpognon noted

According to her, FGM is violence against women and girls and a human rights violation, as well as a harmful social norm, adding that FGM is about the power and control of women and girls.

For her part, Binta Jammeh-Sidibeh, Executive Director, Women Bureau, who spoke on behalf of Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, said the role of government in eliminating violence against women and girls includes to ensure that there are preventive measures to mitigate violence and also to put in place legislative measure for litigation.

She said the Gambian government had set up a broad-based mechanism for addressing violence against women through domestication of international conventions such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the protocol on the African Charter on Human and People’s Right and on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Beijing Platform of Action.

Other international conventions that have been domesticated are the Women’s Act 2010, the Children’s Act 2005, Domestic Violence Act 2013, and Sexual Offences Act 2013.

Jammeh-Sidibeh disclosed that the government of the Gambia had fulfilled its reporting obligation on the implementation of the CEDAW and other international and regional conventions and treaties.

Also speaking at the session, Ade Mamoyane Lekoetje, the UN country coordinator in The Gambia, said FGM is usually performed without anaesthetics and in substandard hygienic circumstances, with unsterilised instruments, which further exposes women to various types of infections, immense suffering and complications during child birth.

She said the most disturbing facts are that this traditional practice is perpetuated by women against women, and the culture of silence which continues to perpetuate the practice.

In the Gambia, 76 percent of women are affected by this practice, she said, adding that health  officials estimate that hundreds of girls and women die as a result of FGM.

She recalled that in 2012, the UN National Assembly adopted a resolution on the elimination of FGM, but noted that the only way to end FGM is if practising communities decide to abandon it.

“We have to talk openly to people for them to understand. It is only through understanding the plight and suffering as a result of FGM that we can start to change attitude and positions against this harmful practice,” she said.

At the end of the forum, a national strategic paper was developed with key recommendations and comprehensive action plan to end FGM.

The three-day forum was jointly organised by Safe Hand for Girls, Think Young Women, Equality Now, The Guardian Newspaper, Women’s Bureau, UNICEF, UNFPA, National Youth Council, The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), Action Aid Wassu Kafo and TOSTAN.

The forum, which brought together 100 youth drawn from across Gambia, had the theme: “FGM and Youth: Stopping an Old-age tradition in a generation.”
-0- PANA MSS/SEG 9Oct2014

09 october 2014 07:24:45

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