The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices, GAMCOTRAP working to promote the rights of women and girl children, held a three-day training for the last set of circumcisers and their assistants who have emerged just at the planning of a Dropping of the Knife ceremony in the Central River Region -North of the Gambia. This last batch of circumcisers,coming from the Fula Community of the Upper Saloum District are currently undergoing a training to empower them to abandon female genital mutilation. The training with circumcisers and their assistants for sustainable abandonment of FGM at the organization's training hall, is supported by Feminist Review Trust- 3-5th January, 2013.
Dr. IsatouTouray, the executive director of GAMCOTRAP in her welcome remarks, noted that female genital mutilation is a harmful traditional practice that affects the health of women and girl-children and should be banned. She informed the participants that this training is important for them to be able to make the right decisions and choices to protect their children from harmful traditional practices like FGM and early marriage. She appreciated the initiative that the remaining Fula circumcisers have made to come and join the 29 Circumcisers who have already gone through the training programme, thus bringing the number to 31 circumcisers who will be dropping the knife in February 2013. She said after the training the participants will be given alternative livelihood initiative for their economic up keep. The executive director said this amount given to the circumcisers is a support that would uplift their economic status, to address poverty among the custodians of the practicing (Circumcisers) for an alternative they have identified within their environment.
She observed that the practice is not primarily for monetary gains but many cut girls because they thought they are doing it for the society or religion. With awareness and knowledge families and communities are ending the practice and protecting their children who are never part of the decision making process to be cut, she said.
Dr. Touray said female genital mutilation contributes a lot to the maternal mortality. She urged the participants to ask as many questions as possible that they are here not to impose on any one but is to give them education to decide what is best for them. She noted that FGM is a deeply rooted culture is not a good practice and giving girls out for marriage at early age before 18 years poses risks and complications for them in their reproductive activity.
Mrs. Lawu Camara, a circumciser from Fass Saloum who spoke on behalf of the participants said before they came to answer the call, they received several trainings from GAMCOTRAP and now understand that female genital mutilation is harmful and it is not a religious injunction. She said if a person inherits a trade from your ancestor and you know that the world is changing, you have to follow positive change. She applauds Mr. Keita the community facilitator for what he is doing and bringing positive messages from GAMCOTRAP to them.
Mrs. Oley Jallow of Saloum said now they understand that anything that will affect a woman sexually, or have long term effect on a human being should be abandoned.
Mrs. Amie Bojang Sissoko, the programme officer, information, communication and education, at GAMCOTRAP said, this is through a larger advocacy work to promote women's right and protect girls from female genital mutilation. Just like it has happened in other regions already in CRR north, 29 circumcisers have identified and trained. This set of trainees are the ones from CRR- South; that they want them to be on the same level of information and training so that during the dropping of the knife in the region they all can take part at the same level.