Gambia: EU, UN call for end to FGM

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The United Nations resident coordinator in Gambia, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje and European Union Chargée d'Affaires, Ms Agnès Guillaud, have called on the world to put an end to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

They made the call in a joint statement on world ‘Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation’ Day observed on 6 February.

“FGM does not have any health benefits but, on the contrary, interferes with the natural functions of girls' and women's bodies. In many cases FGM causes serious pain, bleeding, bacterial infections, and long-term consequences can include infertility and increased risk of childbirth complications and often death," the statement obtained by PANA on Friday said.

FGM is a painful act that violates the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and exists as one of the most violent acts performed on women and girl-children.

In the Gambia, since 1984, the advocacy to eliminate FGM in the Gambia has been progressing phenomenally.

Circumcisers and their communities have been abandoning the practice and protecting their girl-children. The level of awareness is at its peak and the communities are aware of the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girl-children.

According to the UN and EU officials, 76% of women and girls in The Gambia have undergone FGM, adding in order for these numbers to decrease in the future, it is important to pool efforts and to jointly work on eliminating this harmful practice and support the key initiatives already taken by various civil society organizations and other actors.

With the help of a Gambia-based women rights group, Gambia Committee Against Traditional Practice (GAMCOTRAP), in 2007/8 circumcisers and 63 communities abandoned the knife and made a public declaration.

This was the beginning of the wind of change because communities were aware of the effects of FGM and recognized FGM as a violation of the rights of the child.  

According to GAMCOTRAP report obtained by PANA on Friday, from 2007-2013, a total of 128 circumcisers and 900 communities have abandoned the knife, decisions that were all publically declared in "Dropping of the Knife (DOK)" celebrations.

The report said, during this process, GAMCOTRAP trained 247 Community-Based Facilitators (CBFs) to engage in advocacy with their cluster communities to end FGM.

As a result of the community sensitization and advocacy, communities and circumcisers have crafted a network across the regions of the Gambia and are working closely with their communities to protect girls. Currently, there is acceleration of the abandonment of FGM by communities, the report stated.
-0- PANA MSS/MA 6Feb2015

06 february 2015 20:32:05

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