Sukuta, Kombo North
The health community in The Gambia certainly welcomes the announcement on the ban on female circumcision as it will contribute to the reduction of some of the reproductive health complications in the female population. The Information Minister according to the Point News Paper was quoted as stating that quick actions that will be taken to develop the legislative framework to enforce the ban.
Let us discuss FGM within the wider child protection framework. For the enforcement of any legislative framework that may be developed, would require birth registration of every baby and child per community in The Gambia. But what sense does it make protecting the child from FGM when that child most of the time goes to bed hungry. FGM may not immediately lead to the death of the child if sepsis is prevented, but acute malnutrition could easily lead to the death of the child.
How many of us are even aware of the main information on a birth register?
Name of the Child
Date of Birth of the Child
Name of the Mother
Name of the Father
Occupation of the Father
What is the essence of including the occupation of the father on the birth register? This was the format of the birth register as at 1965, when is it to be updated to include the occupation of the Mother? And what use do we make of the occupation information? Child protection is an important component of household poverty reduction. In UK a father with more children is taxed less than a similar employment level male, but without a child. A household annual total income below US $1000 in India as at the year 2000 receive supplementation, what is the minimum household income target for The Gambia, to ensure a decent standard of living for all? In Europe payroll tax (zakat) is used to support child protection and the wider social welfare, this system does not exist in the entire sub-Saharan African continent. Can we learn from this practice? Child protection and the wider social welfare is inextricably linked to employment and minimum wage protection, two of the weakest human development areas of most Sub-Saharan African countries, no doubt the stagnating consumption per capita levels of most of the countries in the region .
So whilst we celebrate the good news from Kanilai, let us reflect on it within the wider child protection framework for the achievement of our national development objectives for every child in the country, no matter where he or she is born. All our actions for the child as duty bearers should be in the best interest of the child.
“Let every child born in The Gambia be supported and protected to attain his/her desire in life”
God bless The Gambia
God bless humanity
Momodou K. Cham