The Point (Banjul)

7 February 2013

Gambians Observe Zero Tolerance to FGM

The Gambia is taking part in a worldwide movement, led by Eve Ensler to say No to Violence Against Women, and to draw peoples' attention to the one billion women who suffer different forms of violence.

This year V-Day is supporting Gamcotrap to reach out to community and opinion leaders in the Kanifing Municipality.

Zero Tolerance this year will be a prelude to V-Day on the 14th February 2013, when 'one billion women and men will be rising as survivors of violence, who have taken the courage to say No to Violence Against Women.'

The theme for this year is: Translate the Resolution "Intensifying the Global Efforts in the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation," which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, to take concrete action in order to accelerate the objective of Zero Tolerance to FGM.

On February 6, 2003, the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo officially declared "Zero Tolerance to FGM," at an international conference organised by the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices in Africa, said Ms. Amie Sissoho, the programme coordinator of Gamcotrap.

While stating that 6th of February was adopted by the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights as the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, she said the day is celebrated around the world as recognition of the need to protect girls and women from the practice.

Noting that the world is acknowledging the harm Female Genital Mutilation does to girl children and women, she said, the United Nations continues to respond to the call for the protection of girls and women from FGM. "Its member countries have recently passed the UN Resolution on the global Ban on FGM," she stated.

She said: "The call for raising consciousness and legislation as enshrined in Article 5 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa is taking root, for the fact that on January 10th 2013, over 260 delegates from all the regions of The Gambia, institutions and organisations also agreed to the legislation on a proposed law, to prohibit FGM in The Gambia and a communiqué was signed by representatives of delegates to that effect."

While stating that it is a giant step in amplifying the voices of grassroots communities in saying no to FGM, she said there is a need to protect girls and women from the impact of the practice.

Participants are expected to take part in this year's celebration with an overview of the efforts at the national level from community mobilisation to the advocacy for a law to protect girls and women from FGM.

They will be sensitised on the global and local efforts to reach out to communities and institutions, so as to take responsibility to protect girls from the practice.

According to records from 2004 to 2011, Gamcotrap has directly reached almost thirteen thousand people through training, sensitisation and advocacy activities and almost a hundred circumcisers have made public declaration on the dropping of the Knife Celebrations between 2007 and 2011.

From years back to date, Gamcotrap has taken leadership to commemorate International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation annually to raise public awareness on the menace of the practice. It has been celebrated in Basse, Barra, and the Greater Banjul Area, and women and young people have been the primary targets.

Ms. Sissoho further stated that come 14th February 2013, two separate events will be staged; one with young people in the Kanifing Municipality and another with rural women in Soma in the Lower River Region, to be punctuated with a march-past, symposia, among other things.

According to her, on 13th February, 2013, Gamcotrap will stage a panel discussion and phone-in on Violence Against Women on Soma Community Radio programme and Sangkalangba women's group will prelude the audience with songs on FGM as activities marking the launch of the One Billion Rising, to be followed by statements on the campaign to say No to Violence Against women, amidst singing and dancing in Soma.

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