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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gambian Rights group advocates alternative to female genital mutilation

February 10, 2010
By Afrique en ligne

The Gambian Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (GAMCOTRAP), in partnership with Yolocamba Solidaridad of Spain on Wednesday held a one-day conference on Generating Alternatives to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Speaking at the conference, funded by the Region of Madrid in Spain, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray, said the GAMCOTRAP/Yolocamba Solidaridad partnership was based on the need to stop the harmful traditional practices against women.

'These areas of concern are critical for the attainment of the fundamental human rights of women and ensuring their complete wellbeing and empowerment within their communities,' she noted.

According to Dr. Touray, GAMCOTRAP in partnership with Yolocamba Solidaridad, supported by the Region of Madrid, worked with Cluster communities in addressing harmful traditional practices, women's rights and gender-based violence.

She explained that the project "generating alternatives against Female Genital Mutilation" had facilitated in-depth knowledge on the social relations shared by cluster communities in The Gambia and practices that are shrouded in secrecy (FGM).

She admitted that it was a great challenge to open discussions on the jealously guarded secrets about FGM , which was wrongfully associated with religion; there by making the debate more sensitive for women's rights activists to engage in.

She noted that Koina was one of the most resistant communities, but expressed the happiness that through the project, organizers were able to make a breakthrough, adding that 18 communities in the Koina cluster and the 21 communities in the Brikamaba cluster were free from FGM.

On his part, Mr. Santiago De Miguel of the Region of Madrid said that Madrid was interested in the fight against FGM in Africa, adding that in 2006, Madrid organized a workshop in Mali, Senegal and The Gambia in order to stop the dangerous practice.

The GAMCOTRAP/Yolocamba Solidaridad Project Coordinator, Begona Ballesteros Sanchez, argued that eradicating FGM would not be an easy task; but pledged "it is our responsibility to defend women's rights."