Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Fight Against FGM Taking Regional Dimension


Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) Efforts to put a stop to harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is taking a new turn as a three-year project meant to create a favourable environment for the implementation of programmes aimed at eradicating FGM in The Gambia was launched in Banjul on 17th May 2010.

The project, titled ‘eradicating harmful traditional practices through rights education’ is initiated by Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children in partnership (GAMCOTRAP) with Save the Children Sweden (SCS) and United Nation development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) will run from 2010 to 2012.


It is also aimed at contributing to the UN Trust Project in Senegal, Guinea, Mali and The Gambia. The Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray said the project which falls under the Save the
Children thematic area of protection is dedicated to the Kombos, the Western Region of the Gambia.

She said the objectives includes to bring together and sensitise relevant institutions and communities, local government authorities and civil society organisations about the new project; to share knowledge and strategies employed in other regions; to work towards legislation banning FGM; and learn from their
donor on its work in the region regarding FGM.

“GAMCOTRAP promotes women’s social, political, economic and cultural rights and focuses on sexual and reproductive health rights. The organisation creates awareness on traditional practices and aims at the preservation of beneficial practices as well as the elimination of harmful practices that are inimical to the well
being of women and children,” she said.

She also noted various approaches and strategies employed over the years, pointing out the rights based approach as very useful in their analysis of the issue at community level. “This approach focuses on the best interest of the child, the role of the community, the State and other critical actors to promote women and
children’s rights,” she said.

The UNICEF Officer in Charge Dr. Meritxell Rela┼ło said the project is important to the evolution of child protection in The Gambia, citing that more communities will be better with the right information to address traditional practices (FGM and early marriage) affecting the health and rights of women and children.

According to her, the third multiple cluster survey from 2005 to 2006 estimates the prevalence rate of FGM at 78.3 percent nationally, with regional variations showing a prevalence of 99 percent in the Upper River Region, where 92 percent of the women interviewed believe that the practice should continue.

“To address child protection issues, the approach must be integrated and holistic, family centred, community-based and upstream-focused,” she stressed.

The Regional Director Save the Children Sweden Mrs. Anniken Tyden says her organisation is a part of the main Save the Children Organisation and it is working towards the protection of the girl child against harmful traditional practices, early marriage and discrimination.

The head of the Dakar-based organisation also commends GAMCOTRAP for the success registered in its quest to eliminate FGM in some parts of The Gambia, but admitted that the prevalence of the practice is still very high.

“In some countries, we are yet to start working on some of the projects due to the challenges involved,” she said, while noting that her organisation is also
working with others in similar projects in Senegal, Mali and Guinea.

The project, she believes will create a platform where actors or stakeholders in the region can discuss issues and work towards eradication FGM.

In a solidarity statement, the Governor of Western Region Lamin Sanneh said women and children have been subjected to discrimination, violence, marginalization and harmful practices that are not inline with modern education and health best practices.

“There is the need for every Gambian to make a reflection of the past, taking into account how many women and girls went through those difficult times,” he said, adding that 2010 to 2012 calls for eradicating harmful traditional practices through ‘rights education’. Vol:2 Issn:171

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