30 CIRCUMSERS DECLARED FREE FGM GAMBIA by Sarjo Camara Singateh The Northern part of Central River Region witnessed the dropping of the misfit knife by 30 circumsers who vowed at the historical Wassu, Lower Basic School which is now registered as one of the grounds that has joined the history. This event is the fourth of its kind that through advocacy and awareness creation the practioners of this deeply rooted culture is been publicly abandoned. The circumsers has stated that “never again” to cut a girl child, they vowed to protect the bodily rights of women and girl child. The thirty women vowed to protect the children of the Gambia and the world at large. The event was grace by school children who led procession from the Wassu skills training centre to the lower basic grounds, women’s groups, diplomatic corps, traditional leaders from various districts, youth groups. Before and after statements the event was manned by fanfare and musical jamboree by different musicians like Jaliba Kuyateh, and groups of traditional communicators and kankurang masquerade. Addressing the gathering the Executive Director GAMCOTRAP Dr. Isatou Touray, said Women’s Rights NGO promotes women’s social, political, economic and cultural rights and focuses on sexual and reproductive health rights. she noted that her organization creates awareness on Traditional Practices and aims at the preservation of beneficial practices as well as the elimination of harmful traditional practices that are inimical to the health and wellbeing of women and children, particularly the girl-child. Dr. Isatou Touray recalls that from Banjul to Basse to Soma communities are responding to change and this wave of change has come to CRR. ‘Today we are celebrating a historic moment in a region where in one go more than 300 children are cut in a given district or perhaps by a single circumciser in a given year. This day is not just an event; but it signifies the resolve of a people whose voices we hear today and whose future we celebrate’.
Speaking on behalf of the NGOs Mr. Kebba Barrow of TANGo has stated that this year’s dropping of the Knife, is indeed a Historic moment in the campaign towards the eradication of FGM and other harmful traditional practices against women and girls. The United Nations sometime last year passed a Resolution:-“ENTITLED: - STRENGTHENING THE GLOBAL EFFORT TO ERADICATE FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION” he said in December, 2012, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki —Moon, welcomed the passing of a “Historic” United Nations Resolution calling on all countries to eliminate female genital mutilation adding that the move was an important step towards a World free from Violence against women. He went further to say that “Harmful practices, such as genital Mutilation constitutes a serious threat to the health of Millions of women and girls worldwide and violates their fundamental rights
Other speakers includes Sylvia Chant of London school of economics, said research has shown that still you have many women in UK that has gone through female genital mutilation. she cited a scenario where a eleven year old Gambian child run for help in UK because her sister was taken through the process and she went somewhere to look for protection. Rep of European Union, AGNES guilaud said the initiative taken by the circumcisers to drop the knives is welcome. she noted that t female genital mutilation is a deeply rooted culture in the Gambia but it is harmful and it side effects are numerous., UNFPA – Assistant Country Rep deputized by Mrs Fatou Kinteh who is the project coordinator said female genital mutilation was attributed to religion by some scholars but with the power of research it is clear that it not a religious injunction. She said with the support of her office this day was possible simple the fund the project with education and advocacy this part of the country and the region decided to drop their misfit knives. Governor Ganyi Touray, thank the women’s rights organisation for making this day a success. He urged other activists to emulate GAMCOTRAP. The Imam of Wassu blessed this historical event with prayers.