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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gambian Communities Pledge to Abandon FGM and Forced Marriage

July 2, 2009 Twenty-four communities in Gambia have pledged to end the practices of female genital mutilation and early or forced marriage of young girls. The reform is due in large part to the work of Tostan, an organization facilitating community-led development in East and West Africa. Joined by UNICEF and supported by the Gambian government, the 24 communities commemorated their pledge with a ceremony. With powerful symbolism, Kobaye Nyabally, a native of Dasilameh who said she had been cutting herself for years as part of a cultural practice she had inherited from her parents, “pledged to abandon the practice by dropping her knife in front of the crowd.” Regional health officer Saikouna Sagina commended the communities for their show of support for the health rights of women and girls, adding that “the declaration by the 24 communities is a clear manifestation [of] the knowledge gained…[that] is impacting positively on their lives.” It is the hope of organizations such as Tostan and UNICEF that the momentous commitment of the communities will serve as a regional and international example. Gambia’s practice rate of FGM is among the highest in Africa, 78 percent among women aged 15-49 years, as AllAfrica informs. And her is the rest of it.