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Thursday, February 3, 2011

24 Communities Abandon FGM in URR

February 3, 2011
Daily Observer
Alieu Ceesay

Twenty-four communities in the Upper River Region (URR), last Sunday abandoned the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful traditional practices, at a ceremony held at Sare Ngai Village in Wuli West, URR.

It could be recalled that on the 16th of January this year, 27 Fula communities abandoned FGM. This declaration by the Fula communities came at the end of a three-year community empowerment sensitisation programme initiated by Tostan-Unicef on the harmful effects of FGM and its related issues in our societies. The declaration, however, created a platform for people from all walks of life to witness the outstanding achievement registered by Tostan and its partners in empowering communities particularly the young ones, to get educated and subsequently free themselves from some harmful traditional practices; such as FGM and forceful marriages, among other things.

Speaking at the ceremony, Baba Jeng, regional health director for URR on behalf of the governor of URR spoke of the important role of Tostan in national development and also in the empowerment of women by educating them on human rights, good governance, and problem-solving process among other things. Jeng however called on the communities to stand by their words in abandoning FGM and early or forceful marriages.

For his part, Yaddy Nget, area manager of Family Planning Association in URR, highlighted the importance of the declaration. Bakary Tamba, Tostan country coordinator, expressed delight at seeing another large number of communities declaring their abandonment of FGM and forceful marriages. He challenged the communities to live up to their words. He said Tostan's next target would be the Sarahuleh communities, and expressed hope that they will achieve their objective.

Among several speakers at the ceremony were Sonah Marenah, women's councillor of Wuli West Ward; Adama Bah, women's group president of Sare Ngai; Kalilu Jawo, ward councillor of Baja Kunda; and Chokeh Jallow, alkalo of Sare Ngai village, who unanimously commended Tostan for transforming their lives.