Gambia: International media campaign to end FGM launched in Gambia

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - The global media campaign to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by the British newspaper, The Guardian, was launched in The Gambia on Sunday, in collaboration with UNFPA The Gambia, as well as NGOs Think Young Women (TYW) and Save Hand for Girls (SHFG).

The campaign is aimed at sensitising people to the effects and dangers associated with FGM and to influence national authorities to act toward ending the practice in the country.

FGM is a deep-rooted traditional practice, and partly a religious belief, in The Gambia which, according to activists, threatens the lives of thousands of women and girls.

Fatou Kinteh, UNFPA’s programme officer and gender coordinator, who spoke on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, said FGM had devastating health, reproductive health and psychological effects, all of which are against the rights of girls and women.

She said it used to be a taboo to discuss FGM, but that due to growing concern regarding the practice, the silence was broken and it has now become a household word.

“With or without legislation, sensitisation, training and advocacy for FGM to stop must continue. We have come a long way in the campaign and we must not relent, our joint efforts are required to further protect women and girls,” she said.

She said the media remains important in creating awareness to influence change.

“The important thing is first to have a thorough understanding of the subject and to know and understand your audience. With this information one can communicate to your audience without offending them especially when dealing with culturally sensitive issues like FGM,” she said.

For her part, Maggie O’Kane, Coordinator of Guardian's end FGM Media Campaign, said the role of journalists in reporting on FGM is underplayed in The Gambia.

“As journalists, we have the privilege to use our influence and what we have to educate and informed people on the dangers of FGM,” she said.

Jaha Dukureh, Founder of Safe Hand for Girls, said she started the campaign against FGM in the United States two years ago, adding that during this period, with the help of the Guardian, she was able to influence authorities in the US, including President Barack Obama.
-0- PANA MSS/SEG 2Feb2015    

02 february 2015 08:34:45

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