9 February 2012

Gambia: Gamcotrap Seeks Legislation Against FGM

The executive director of Gamcotrap has said that an effective national legislation would be a vital component in the efforts to accelerate the elimination of FGM. Dr. Isatou Touray made the remark Monday during the celebration of the Universal Zero Tolerance to FMG at the KMC Multi-purpose Hall along Jimpex Road, Kanifing.

She said that a lot has been done and that The Gambia needs to consolidate on these gains by passing a law against FGM. "I am glad to report that this process is in progress and I hope that the relevant Ministry under the purview of the Office of the Vice President will respond to support and move the process further," she further stated.

She indicated that the law can also provide the legal tools to legitimise and protect women willing to challenge the social convention by refusing to undergo FGM. She pointed out that an absence of legislation contributes to the perception of FGM as acceptable and weakens the legitimacy and impact of anti-FGM advocacy.

Dr. Touray revealed that the government of The Gambia has ratified all the international and regional conventions and instruments regarding women and children's rights, thus showing the political will and commitment to advance the strategic interest and human rights of women and the girl-child. "The constitution of The Gambia has given formal equality to women and there are various policy documents that have relevant provisions and commitment to promote women's rights," she added.

The Gamcotrap boss also outlined mechanisms needed for specific law against FGM notably; engaging in advocacy and social mobilisation of communities to be aware of the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health as well as the rights of women and children.

Her words: "We also engaged in lobbying the relevant state institutions to influence positive policy directions. As non-state actors, our role is to complement the efforts of the government." Dr Touray told the gathering that currently, the Children's Act of 2005 as well as the Women's Act of 2010 are in place, stressing that Gamcotrappaid tribute to The Gambian leader for assenting to these bills and acts to promote the rights of women and children.

"I look forward to the day that His Excellency will append his signature to the specific Act prohibiting FGM in The Gambia," she said, further recalling that since the first dropping of the knife in 2007, communities have been calling for a law to protect girls from FGM. She said that the call has been getting louder from communities who have been exposed to the dangers of FGM and the need for adults to take responsibility towards the protection of children against the practice.

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