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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gambia: Zero Tolerance Against FGM Celebrated

Musa Barrow

10 February 2009

GAMCOTRAP, an NGO working for the eradication of harmful traditional practices, has on Friday, 6th February, 2009, celebrated 'Zero Tolerance Against FGM' at the Barra Hotelin the North Bank Region.

February 6th, is observed the world over as a day meant for calling for an end to Female Genital Mutilation.

Speaking on the occasion, which was attended by school children, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray, said the Zero Tolerance Against FGM was perceived in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in 2003, when eighteen first ladies came up with a resolution looking at the issue of harmful traditional practices and how it affects the sexuality and well being of girls and women.

Dr. Touray said this resolution was later adopted by the United Nations. She told the gathering that her organisation is quite aware of the fact that a lot of work needs to be done in the North Bank Region and that they are trying to mobilise the necessary resources to carry out activities.

The GAMCOTRAP head used the occasion to read the following press release from the Inter-Africa Committee of UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.:

To observe February 6, 2009, as International Day on Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutulatur, the inter Africa Committee on traditional practices are with her affiliates and partners across the world, calls on governments, parliamentarians, UN agencies, NGOs, donor community, religious leaders, community leaders, youths, communities and members of the press to make a greater commitment to ensure the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation.

The theme for this year's observation is political will at the centre of achieving Zero Tolerance to FGM. The objective of observing February 6 is to draw the attention at the international and national levels to efforts that need to be exerted to force women and girls free from FGM, to accelerate action towards its elimination by the said target date of 2010.

According to the common agenda for action or 2015 being the target of MDGs.

Why focus on Female Genital Mutulation? Female Genital Mutulation is violence against women. It a violation of human rights principles, as stipulated in article 24:3 of the Convention on the Right of Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, other internationals and regional instruments and the Protocol to the Africa Charter on Human and People's Right, relating to the Rights of Women.

The MDGs advocate for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health. FGM refers to any practice that involves the partial or total removal or alteration of the external female genetalia or organs for none medical reasons. By a conservative estimate, about two million women and girls are subjected to FGM world wide with devastating consequences. Studies have shown a co-relation between FGM and high infant and materials mortality and mobility in African countries where FGM is practiced. There is also clinical evidence that FGM presents a serious risk in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, especially among societies who practice it as an initiation rite, using the same instrument on many girls at the same time.

February 6 was unanimously adopted at the International Conference on Zero Tolerance, organised by the Inter Africa Committee, from February 4th to 6 2003 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Representatives at the conference came from forty nine (49) countries, including four first ladies from Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali and other representatives, ministers and parliamentarians, community and youth leaders.

IAC National Committee in twenty eight African Countries, its affiliates and partners in Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand , Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and USA will mark February 6 2009.

Some of the activities being organised by the inter Africa Committee include press conference, press interviews, theatre shows and songs by a school club in Addis Ababa, the headquarters of IAC.