In their bid to implement an inclusive anti sensitization on female genital mutilation across all sectors of society in the country, The Gambia Committee on harmful traditional practices working for the health and rights of women and girls has once again stormed one of the oldest cultural towns in the kombo north with the objective of creating awareness on this deeply rooted cultural practice, that continues to confront women with all its dire complications.
Dr. Isatou Touray, the executive director of GAMCOTRAP said men also have a critical role in sensitizing people on female genital mutilation. She said if a woman has any problem that would also affect a man. She advices the youths to search for knowledge so that they could make good choices for themselves; that female genital mutilation is against the children's act.
Dr. Touray said in this modern world if you click the internet, any information you need you would get the right answer. She said many children, who were mutilated face a lot of disappointment from their parents and guidance simply because they tell them lies before cutting them and there is no way a healthy organ should be mutilated. She also expresses that African understanding of disease/problems is about allegations or attributing it to witches or sprits. Dr.Touray poised that female genital mutilation needs critical thinking and people need to be conscious.
Speaking to the youths at the Sukuta health centre, the programme officer-Information, education and communication, Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoho said her organization has made remarkable efforts in making names for them in the fight against female genital mutilation in the country. She said their meeting is supported by United Nations trust fund to end violence against women, UN women and safe the children, Sweden.
Mrs. Bojang Sissoho gave a brief background on her organization in 1984; that the World health organization and partners did a research on women concerning their health complications and at that time she said lot of cases were detected on early marriage, female genital mutilation and nutrition.
"In addition, research has shown that most of the complications that are connected to some cultural practices like taboos on nutritious foods and harmful traditional practices, that brought the idea of forming national committees to create awareness on this issues," Said Amie Bojang Sisoho. She said GAMCOTRAP is among 28 countries that formed Inter African committee on harmful traditional practices.
The GAMCOTRAP IEC programme officer said her organization's succeeds in 'three dropping knives' programmes by the circumcisers that make public declaration in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
For her part, the GAMCOTRAP Senior Programme Coordinator, Mrs. Mary Small said, female genital mutilation involves severe bleeding that cut across the dorsal artery of the clitoris. She explains that it involves shock from severe bleeding and pain. She said urinary retention due to pain and partly sealing of the urethral orifice creates infections due to unhygienic conditions and application of local treatment.
For her part the Chairperson of the Sukuta Village Development Committee, Ms Fatou Cham tasks the youth to be attentive and ask questions that are of concerns to them. She said discussing female genital mutilation in society is not about lack of respect but creating awareness and this tradition is a deeply rooted culture in Sukuta. She said they should advocate for law against female genital mutilation so that they can protect their women and girls. Ms Cham said for women who go to labour, they know the side effects that female genital mutilation does.
For his part Imam Baba Leigh said female genital mutilation is not a religious injunction and it also affects the health and sexuality of a woman. He said people married for love and to have enjoyable sexual intercourse but if that feeling is not there that is another problem a woman may face in her matrimonial house.
For his part Omar Dibba, a youth coordinator at GAMCOTRAP spoke on early marriage and its implications that confront the girl child. He said youths have a role to play in transforming society. He also said there are certain responsibilities attached to early marriage that is on both sides. Mr. Dibba said the consent of child in anything that affects them is important. He dismissed the notion that children have no right in the presence of their elders. He also echoes that performing female genital mutilation on girls is not a religious injunction; that it is a harmful traditional practices period.
For her part, Anna Dampha a participant said there is no progress in this act and so it needs to be stopped. She said it is regret that what they remove from a woman, they would not be able to return it.