By RoheyJadama

The Network Against Gender Based Violence (NGBV) has organized a two-day sensitization programme for Army Officers and soldiers’ wives on gender-based violence and female genital mutilation (FGM).

The event was held at the Yundum Barracks.

Officially opening the training on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces (GAF), Brigadier General Ramatoulie D.K Sanneh, the Chief Adviser to the Gender Focal Officer, said the training has come at the right time for families to live in peace and harmony.

Brigadier General Sanneh said GAF under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff, is fully ready to work with NGBV. She revealed that they have already established gender offices within their military barracks and are fully equipped with capable people ready to take the responsibility. “However, all these offices established, need logistic support”, she appealed.

She urged participants to make the training interactive, ask questions and share the knowledge gained from the training.

For his part, the Acting National Coordinator of NGBV Mr. Fallu Sowe, said the two day training is meant to discuss issues affecting women and girls. Mr. Sowe said they receive funding through Action Aid International from ‘Amplify Change’, to organize this training.

Speaking on behalf of the Executive Director of Action Aid International-The Gambia, Mrs. Fanta Jatta-Sowe, the Women’s Right Specialist at Action Aid International-The Gambia, said they have done their research and came to the conclusion that the practice of female genital mutilation is not beneficial or useful.

“Usually when you ask people why they practice FGM, the response they give is they don’t want the woman to be promiscuous. We heard people saying that it is a religious obligation, but we have seen people who are Muslims and don’t practice FGM and nobody dares to call them non-Muslims. We therefore, conclude that it is a cultural practice, not a religious obligation”, said Madam Jatta-Sowe.

According to the Action Aid Women’s Right Specialist, people often tell you that is an aged-old tradition that is being passed on from generation to generation. She said it is a tradition that is being done by our great grand-parents but it is harmful and we need to stop it.

She said FGM is not even practiced in Mecca and Medina where the Islamic religion originated from. “FGM is even practiced by those who are not Muslims, so it is a cultural practice not a religious obligation”, she said.

Mrs. Oumie Sissokho-Kinteh, the Deputy Chairperson of NGBV, said they have sensitized both the army officers and their wives. She reiterated the need to target the young people within the barracks too.

This, according to Mrs. Kinteh, will avail the youth who are in the barracks and do not have the opportunity to be in other youth organizations.

“We can organize a days’ session with them, or even an inter-generational dialogue with their parents to come and discuss about some of the pressing issues, especially the issues they are faced with either in their schools or households and this will help”, she said.             

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