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|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 09 Feb 2016 : 10:20:46
GAMCOTRAP Celebrates Zero Tolerance Day to end FGM
By Rohey Jadama
Foroyaa: February 8, 2016
The Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr Isatou Touray, said this year’s is an important day for the Gambian women andDr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director, Gamcotrap children, bringing in a new lease of life in promoting their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“Ten years ago GAMCOTRAP led the first Dropping of the Knife in this stadium to celebrate the first group of 18 circumcisers and 63 communities, at a time we were not sure if we would witness the banning of FGM in the Gambia during our lifetime. Nevertheless we mustered courage and patience to continue the advocacy despite the challenges we faced across the country,” she said.
She said her organization the leading women’s right organisation has been engaged in a social mobilization campaign to create awareness about the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children.
“A lot of gains have been registered in the Gambia to eradicate the practice with the most recent historic actions taken by the Gambia government to eradicate the practice. On the 23rd November 2015, Gambia President issued a presidential proclamation banning Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Following this, on 28 December 2015, the National Assembly adopted the “Women’s Act Amendment Bill on FGM,” said the GAMCOTRAP Executive Director.
For her part, Madam Ade Lekoje, the United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Gambia, said the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations (UN) campaign to end this harmful practice that violates the rights of women and girls. “FGM/C has been in our societies for a long time. We have our girls and women violated in the name of religion and tradition, leading to serious health and reproductive health consequences for them,” she said. “I am glad that the UN support through UNFPA and UNICEF joint program funded by the Department for International Development of the Government of United Kingdom (DFID) to end FGM in the Gambia is working with all stakeholders,” she added.Mrs. Amie Sillah (left) receiving a certificate on behalf of Foroyaa’.
The UN Resident Coordinator said the presidential pronouncement banning FGM in the Gambia followed by the enactment of an anti-FGM/C bill on the 28th December 2015 by the National Assembly which the president has now signed will turn things around for women/girls. She said these actions show the Gambia’s strong continued commitment to implementing the International Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as the UN General Assembly Resolution for the Elimination of FGM/C, which the country adopted in 1979, 1989 and 2012 respectively.
“The abandonment of FGM will play a pivotal role in the critical transition for the women and girls in the Gambia, the UN will continue to support women empowerment and advocacy for pro-women policies,” said Madam Lekoje.
She also shared a personal story about complications she received from the procedure in the name of culture and tradition and urged women to seek knowledge to say no to harmful traditional practices.
For her part, the United States Ambassador to the Gambia Ambassador Alsup, said they reaffirm their commitment to bring an end to FGM here in the Gambia and worldwide.
“The fight against practices that violate human rights especially the human rights of women and girls is a fight that is full of challenges but also of victories. FGM is the violation of human rights of women and girls that occur worldwide and in recent years there has been some momentum towards accelerating its elimination and it is only happening because of decade long efforts by committed activists in the Gambia and other parts of the world. FGM is a problem throughout the world. Recently UNICEF came with a study that FGM is practice in Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, India, Pakistan as well as in Europe and the United States of America.”
She said effective legislation backed by actions are fundamental and crucial factors to successfully combat this form of GenderSidia Jatta, former GAMCOTRAP Chair, receiving a Certificate from UN Resident Coordinator Based Violence, to protect its victims and to end impunity; in addition the perpetrators are to be held accountable as legislation protects and provides the legal tools for women and girls willing to defy social pressures and tradition and reject FGM and also establish the legal environment that legitimizes and facilitates the advocacy and educational work of anti FGM activists and women’s rights groups.
She said there are other countries where legislation is absent and women/girls are not protected.
She posited that the role of activists continues to be to sensitize the citizenry to the existence of the laws to protect themselves against the violation.
She appealed to states that have not legislated against the practice to follow the likes of the Gambia where legislation has recently being adopted and she hailed it as a great step in the battle against FGM not only in the Gambia but worldwide.
GAMCOTRAP also awarded eminent persons and institutions for the great work and support they have given to the organisation to end FGM.
After the opening ceremony consultation process continued as eminent speakers carved the way forward for the organization; Overview on progress made in banning FGM in The Gambia was done by the Executive Director GAMCOTRAP; Reflections on the banning was done by Sidia Jatta former GAMCOTRAP Chair; Understanding the legal implications of the law on FGM to the population by Amie Sillah of Foroyaa; the role of civil society in the implementation of the FGM law was presented by K.K Barrow of TANGO; Imam Yaya Janneh of Pirang and Oustass Sanuwo of Foreign Affairs gave the religious perspective while Ajaratou Fatou Njie Fofana Regional Coordinator and Deputy Mobiliser APRC led the Grass root women’s reflection on FGM law in the local language.
|1 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 09 Feb 2016 : 10:23:20
“Understanding the Legal Implementation of the Law on FGM/C for the Population"
By Amie Sillah
Foroyaa: February 8, 2016
Amie Sillah on Law Ending FGM in The Gambia
Below is the presentation entitled “A Law Ending FGM in The Gambia” delivered by Mrs. Amie Sillah on the event marking International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM organized by GAMCOTRAP in collaboration with No Peace Without Justice, Gambia Government and IAC CI-AF. It was held on 6th February 2016 at Friendship Hotel in Bakau.Amie Sillah 2
The full text is below:
On 28/12/2015 lawmakers passed a Bill banning FGM/C and criminalizing the practice.
The Amendment to the 2010 Women’s Act states that a person who engages in Female Circumcision commits an offence and if found guilty of the act shall face imprisonment for 3 years or fine of D50, 000 or both.
Where Female Circumcision causes death, the penalty is life imprisonment.
Accomplices of those engaged in the act will face up to 3 years imprisonment or D50, 000 fine or both; a person who knows that FGM is happening or about to happen and fails to report it is subject to a fine of D10, 000.
Human rights defenders celebrated but those who feel that their traditional values and beliefs are trampled under-foot still display stiff resistance in safe corners.
Laws are meant to be enforced .However, no female human rights defender would want to see another female in jail. How are we going to get those who are resisting on board is the fundamental challenge we have to face.
FGM/C is an age long practice of people in many parts of Africa, Europe and immigrant communities in Europe and America. It is practiced by Muslims, Christians, Polytheists and Traditionalists and it predated Islam and Christianity.
Medical Science has given sufficient evidence to show its harmfulness to women/girls. The operation is done on babies, adolescent girls and older women.
Research has shown that sanctions against FGM/C are not the alpha and omega of everything. The practice requires civil, political, economic, social and cultural interventions from state and non-state actors to be addressed.
It is very unfortunate that the challenges of harmful traditional practices were not put in the forefront of the national agenda by state actors since independence. This is why those who revere the practice were gripped by shock when it was automatically banned. Obviously that urbanization and prosperous living standards had made many to abandon the practice, despite legal interventions and socio–economic development if people are not convinced they could go underground and do the practice.
A story was narrated to us during one of such symposia that an educated lady staying abroad had to visit the country before the ban to cut her daughters because it was illegal in her country of residence. How can we convince such people that cutting is harmful to their children?
Some other people could use peoples’ ignorance and go underground and tell them that they could reverse the trend if voted into office. How could we counter their distortions?
This is where intensive Information and effective Education and Communication are needed. This should start at the early childhood level. The Nyakoi Experience has shown that Anatomy and Physiology could be taught to small children at an early age to enable children to learn about their vital organs and how they function. FGM/C Information, Education and Communication could be utilized in giving pedagogical training to ECD Communicators. The same IEC should be in place at all levels of the educational ladder, up to tertiary level. Such information empowers the youth with the required knowledge to make informed choices. If such initiatives were introduced since independence we would have gone a long way in the eradication of harmful traditional practices. The past is still with us that’s why the transformation becomes difficult in some quarters.
Media of all types need IEC to be empowered to transmit knowledge gained on the devastating effects of harmful traditional practices. If the media reporters or executives are not convinced conflicting messages will be given to add to the confusion.
Research has shown ample evidence of the harmful effect of traditional practices .We should redouble our efforts in sharing such information with people who are yet to be on board so that they could be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the practice is harmful.
The ex-circumcisers ‘Ngansimbalus’ should be empowered with scientific information and convinced to stop the practice without fear of coercion. The Dropping of the Knife (DOK) is ample evidence of the possibility of combatting the practice without using coercive methods. This method should be intensified to cover the whole country.
The recognition given to them in terms of Awards and economic empowerment through Grants-in-Aids, also by making them resource persons during in house training, workshops, seminars etc. and also workshops outside the country should be intensified.
The government should strengthen its health delivery system to cater for survivors of the practice who suffer from obstetric complications. Government should partner with National and international partners in this endeavor.
Foreign partners should support non- state- actors to intensify their IEC outreach programmes and Grant-in-Aid projects.
Other protagonists argue about losing our culture to outside influence. Urbanization and population increase has resulted in the movement of people and multiculturalism is the order of the day. Hence we must find ways and means of bringing up our children to have values and self -worth other than the Passage of Rite. Notwithstanding, certain ceremonies could still be maintained as it is being done and the initiates given more civic education to know themselves, their country and the world. They could be given human rights and democratic values of tolerance of diversity in a sovereign Republic.
With socio-economic development, upliftment of people from ignorance, poverty and disease harmful traditional practices such as FGM/C, Early Marriage, Harmful Widowhood Rites will disappear from our country.
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