By Sarjo Camara-Singateh
The communities in Niamina and the rest of Central River Region (CRR) have instituted another historic moment by joining their colleagues who have dropped the knife since 2007, celebrating the dropping of the knife with 30 circumcisers from 115 communities.
This event, which coincided with the UN day to End Violence Against Women on the 25th November, 2015, was held in Jareng (CRR-South) and marked the fifth Dropping of the Knife celebration by these 30 circumcisers and their 115 communities and the 1st ever hosted in this part of the country.
”These 30 circumcisers have understood the relevant articles in all the conventions, the sexual and reproductive health consequences of FGM and other harmful traditional practices to have reached this decision to protect girls by publicly dropping the knife” said Dr. IsatouTouray, the Executive Director of Gamcotrap.
Dr. Touray said this day marks a very important day for women and girls all over the world to end violence against women. “Today, I also take the opportunity to celebrate my late colleague and friend in the fight to end FGM Madam Efua Dorkenoo who died in 2014 fighting to end FGM.”
She said the late Madam Dorkenoo led the End FGM Social Campaign and has inspired a lot of them in Africa and beyond. “I would like us to recognise her contributions for the great legacy she left behind,” said the Gamcotrap director.
She revealed that the gathering has brought together five Districts and also acknowledged the involvement of Upper and Lower Fulladu in the 2009 dropping of the knife. “Today, Sare Luba and Yorro Berikunda are part of this landmark event, thus creating an FGM free region, hence their coming in full force and unity to show the world that change is possible,” she added.
Dr. Touray noted that as a result of the Rights Based Approach, GAMCOTRAP was able to work closely with target groups that are critical to its advocacy on Women and Children’s Rights in the Gambia, adding the 1015 communities throughout the Gambia have gone through the process of empowerment and change to protect girls from FGM. “These achievements are possible by working within and closely with the indigenous people and partners, she added.
She noted the support of the officials, the great commitment of the women leaders, young people, the mothers and circumcisers who made this happen.
“Over the years, we have worked in the Niaminas, the people have responded to efforts made and FGM is no longer a taboo since the issue is now subjected to open debate amongst different sectors of the region. Since the first ever dropping of the knife organised by GAMCOTRAP in 2007, there has been a gradual but steady success working with communities,” she revealed.
She said in pursuit of their mandate, GAMCOTRAP has for the past years taken the initiative through the support of UNFPA and other donors in addressing traditional practices, Women and Children’s rights and gender based violence in the Niaminas. As a result of the Rights Based Approach, she said, GAMCOTRAP was able to work closely with target groups that are critical to its advocacy on Women and children’s rights in the Gambia.
Dr.Touray urges the National Assembly Members, who are expected to ensure the domestication of International and Regional Conventions and Protocols to ensure substantive equality for women and girls, to pass the specific law to prohibit FGM. This, she said, is to secure a protective environment for women and children as well as other vulnerable groups.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the government of the Gambia for the enabling environment, the media both print and electronics”.
The representative of the United National Population Fund, Mr. Alieu Jammeh, hailed the efforts of GAMCOTRAP for taking all the odds working with the communities. He stated that hopes are high that FGM would come to an end in the Gambia. He further said that his office will make everything possible to support people who want to end FGM in their communities.
He said grassroots mobilization is key in the fight against FGM as well as forced and early marriages.
Chief Yaya Jarjuesey, Gamcotrap’s board chairperson, hailed the efforts made by GAMCOTRAP for enlightening the masses on the issues affecting women and also thank the president for the pronouncement. He said all the arguments have now come to an end following the pronouncement of the policy to end female genital mutilation.
A representative of the CRR governor, Mr Malang Saibo Camara, also expressed similar remarks.
Alhagie Kebba Touray, the Chief of Niamina East District, and Alhagie Waa Ceesay, the Alkalo of Jareng, both thanked Gamcotrap for the work they have been doing.