Six District Chiefs and forty-four Alkalolu from Chamen, Kaur and Sami Pachonki Clusters were the target of a three days workshop held at Janjanbureh, Central River Region. At the end of the training, the participants unanimously agreed that FGM, Early and Forced marriages must stop and they pledged to give feedback to their respective communities and intensify community mobilization against these harmful traditional practices. The participants called on Religious leaders to take leadership in the campaign against Female Genital Mutilation and clear misconceptions about the practice and Islam.
The Governor of the region Alhagie Ganyi Touray underscored the significance of targeting Chiefs and Alkalolu from his region to address Female Genital Mutilation and other sexual and reproductive and health and rights issues. Governor Touray reflected on the progress made in the campaign against FGM and observed that people are reaching consensus to stop FGM, because of the culturally relevant approach GAMCOTRAP is using. The CRR governor urged participants to give feedback to their communities and to mobilise them so that they will all benefit from the information. He further informed the gathering that The Gambia Government is interested in promoting women and children’s welfare and thus the need to disseminate the information they received from the training. Mr. Touray finally called on GAMCOTRAP reach out to more communities to facilitate the elimination of FGM in the region.
The Executive Director, Dr. Isatou Touray informed participants that the EU Non-State Actors’ project is a twelve month contract which aim is to contribute to the elimination of harmful traditional practices through “Rights” education. The GAMCOTRAP Executive Director added that it was crucial to start the project with influential community leaders so that they would support the efforts of other target groups in their region. She stressed the importance of dialogue and to get the right information which will enable participants to make informed choices on issues affecting them such as FGM and early marriage. Dr. Touray reminded participants about the International, Regional and national instruments the Gambia Government has signed and ratified and informed them that GAMCOTRAP’s role is to support the government policies that promote the rights of Women and Children by enlighten communities about them through its work.
Similarly, at Kaur Janneh Kunda, fifty women leaders were drawn from 16 villages of the Kaur cluster in the Lower Saloum District. The Chief of the area, Chief Ali Jaye Touray and the Alkalo of Kaur Touray Kunda, Lamin Saidy both informed participants that they have benefited from an earlier training held in Janjanbureh and they have learnt a lot about the health effects of FGM. Both stressed the importance of eradicating FGM as it is not a religious obligation and more so it is harmful to the health of its victims.
In his remarks, the Imam Alhagie Muniru Janneh of Mansakonko noted that Islam promotes good health and will never encourage a tradition that affects the health of women and children. He further observed that Islam has never contradicted the opinion of doctors when it comes to the promotion of health and well being of humanity.
Participants left motivated by facts and evidence on the ill health associated with FGM that have been scientifically proven and empowered by experience sharing. They also realized that FGM is a violation of the bodily integrity and dignity of women. There was a consensus amongst the women leaders that the practice should stop. They further committed themselves to campaign against the FGM and other harmful traditional practices. They also pledged to share the knowledge gained and mobilize their women and other groups during social ceremonies. The Women leaders from the Kaur Cluster communities also promised to track down mobile circumcisers and report any of them found in their communities to their village heads. The finally agreed to promote positive traditional practices and to network with other women, chiefs and heads of villages who have attended the training to rally the support of the others in their communities.
5th May 2011