By Today News Paper
GAMCOTRAP, a non governmental organization, is recruiting the elders of Niani in its campaign against female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C).
According to a press release from the organization, over one hundred participants from nine communities recently converged in Wassu to discuss FGM alongside other issues affecting the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children in an UNFPA-backed initiative.
The objective of the community sensitization is to work with traditional leaders within the district to support the abandonment of harmful traditional practices in particular FGM and domestic violence in their communities as well as promote the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children.
Speaking on behalf of the chief of Niani, the Alkalo of Madina Lamin Kanteh, Faburama Kanteh thanked GAMCOTRAP for bringing the campaign to stop FGM to their district. According to him, this was the first time they have had any such training on the effects FGM has on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. He called on traditional leaders to support the campaign to protect their women and children and appealed to GAMCOTRAP to reach out to the other clusters in the district.
In her statement, Dr. Isatou Touray, executive director of GAMCOTRAP, noted the effect FGM has on maternal and child health.
She informed the participants that The Gambia's participation at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York is an indication of the country's commitment to international and regional conventions and protocols to improve the lives of women and girls in particular, thus The Gambia reporting to the Commission on the status of women.
She further informed them that Gambian parliamentarians are being engaged to enable them to pass a law against FGM, making reference to the Declaration against FGM by the Gambian parliamentarians in September 2009.
The GAMCOTRAP executive director also noted the importance of awareness creation on FGM and the need for a law to protect women and girls. She called on parents to discipline their children to be responsible citizens and for couples to engage in dialogue and be part of the wind of change to stop FGM.
Islamic Scholars Muhamadou Sanuwo and Abubacarr Kanteh of Soma enlightened the participants about Islam and the debate on FGM and women's rights in general.
It was noted that Islam promotes equality and partnership between men and women, thus created them in pairs.
They further enlightened the participants on the process of understanding Islam from its principles and sources from the Holy Quran, Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad and the various classifications of Hadiths.
It was pointed out that Islam respects human live and therefore any act that could cause harm to human beings would not be accepted as part of the faith. They called for reflection of practices and the issues raised.
The outcome of the training included consensus amongst participants to stop FGM and a circumciser from Wassu village, Nakebba Fofana making a declaration at the training that after having realised the impact of FGM on women and girls, she has joined her cluster to stop FGM.
This decision was applauded by the participants and representatives of the women elders' reiterated their commitment to change and to protect girls from FGM.
The Wassu Tolay Kafo also asserted their commitment to the campaign by affiliating with GAMCOTRAP.
The training brought together elders, male and female including Imams and Alkalolu, women and youth leaders in the Wassu cluster.