25 November 2015

Gambia: FGM Banned in the Gambia

As the President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa banned Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia on Monday, the Daily Observer went about to sound the opinions of individuals on the issue, in a bid to examine the scale of the news and its impact.

FGM has for long time been an issue of debate within and outside the country, with many people expressing distinct points of views based on tradition, opinion and religion.

Now that is officially condemned, below is what Gambians have to say about the matter.

Isatou Khan-Gassama: teacher at Latrikunda Primary School

I am very delighted with the total ban of FGM in the country. FGM is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia.

In my opinion FGM has so many disadvantages which includes severe pain and bleeding, shock, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissues and sometimes death.

I am totally in support of the ban in the Gambia and I am thanking the President for the good initiative once more.

Facebook Post; Amie Bojang-Sissoho-Programme Coordinator of GAMCOTRAP

The news of banning FGM is welcomed, an important political pronouncement to protect the girl children in The Gambia.

Njundu Drammeh: National Coordinator of Child Protection Alliance (CPA)

The pronouncement by the President regarding the prohibition of FGM in The Gambia is indeed very great. It is a decision whose time has come. I think the next step would be to promulgate a law to give legal effect to the pronouncement. And then all of us, to a man and woman, should ensure the law is effectively enforced and implemented.

The NGOs and others should, nonetheless, continue the awareness creation so that communities are motivated to abandon the practice forever. We have all won; none is the loser. The greater winners are our girls, born and unborn. Long live the Gambia!

Momodou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education at the MoHSW

The ban is a welcome idea and timely. The practice has lot of health implications on the health of young girls and women and the declaration made by the Gambian leader is supporting the health sector and protecting the health and lives of girls and children.

Honorable Fatou Mbaye: Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly

Alhamdulillah! I know women and men of progress are glad that His Excellency the President Sheikh Professor Dr Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa has taken a bold and positive decision to ban FGM in the country.

It is a cultural practice but all the other aspects surrounding FGM have numerous health hazards associated with FGM, i.e fistula, difficulty in labour, psychological trauma and other health disorders.

I therefore want to take this opportunity to congratulate His Excellency the President for this progressive decision and I also want to encourage all of us (women) to cooperate in this venture to ensure all our girls and young women are healthy.

We will continue the conversation to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of His Excellence's decision.

Haddy Mboge-Barrow: the National Coordinator-Network Against Gender Based Violence (NGBV)

I will seize this opportunity to thank His Excellency the President for such a very exciting announcement. On behalf of my network, I thank him for this. I am happy, because as our name implies, we want to see a Gambia free from gender-based violence one of which is FGM.

The president is among those who promote the rights of women and girls, so I am happy about the pronouncement. NGBV as a coalition will continue to work together with partner institutions and Civil Society Organisations to do more awareness creation around the issues in a bid to ensure that there is a law in place to see a Gambia free of FGM.

Honorable Seedy Njie-Nominated Member of the National Assembly

I thank President Jammeh for his swift and timely decision. This is indicative of President Jammeh's commitment to the welfare of the citizenry especially in the areas of health and other social sectors.

This will check the unscrupulous elements in and outside the country who are using the issue of FGM as a tool to make money and to cash gloomy pictures and blatant lies against Gambia Government.

President Jammeh is more committed to the welfare and health of Gambians than anyone of them.

Ebrima L. Ceesay- Secretary General, HeForShe Youth Platform-The Gambia

I woke up in the morning to check on my social media feeds just before going to work and stumbled on the Information Minister's post on Facebook saying that the President has made a pronouncement that FGM is banned with immediate effect.

The news looks too good to be true so I started contacting my fellow activists some of them already sent me messages enquiring the authenticity of the news; as well checked on twitter and found some prominent FGM activist posting the news.

Confirming the pronouncement from reliable sources is indeed encouraging to the Anti-FGM campaigners and it sets a forward trending pace for organisations and activists advocating an end to FGM. The political will is very crucial to prohibiting FGM as enshrined in the various conventions that seek to protect women from harmful traditional practices and other women's rights violations.

One thing I would like to put forward, more work needs to be done now than ever before. As advocates we should continue to enlighten the public on the negative effects of FGM and the positive impact of ending it.

Sise Sawaneh: Journalist at GRTS

It is welcome news for us journalists and activists advocating the rights of women and children. We have been yearning for such to happen in the country for us to have a ban on FGM and I believe it's a very good move by the President to ban such a practice that is harmful to the health and wellbeing of the girl child.

It is a step in the right direction. I will say congratulations to all the organisations that were fighting for such to happen and also individual activists who fight for the rights of women and children.

The President is always keen in the concerns of women and children, which triggered this pronouncement, yet there is a need for a law to be put in place and I am really sure the National Assembly together with the concerned authorities will work towards that because it is a necessity. The ban is timely.

Alimatou Bah- 2014 second runner up of the miss 22nd July Beauty Pageant

Well I think am in for it because I see no genuine reason why FGM is still happening in the society. Before our grandparents believed that every female child should go through it. But I say no to FGM.

Lamin Queen Jammeh- NBR Governor

I thank the President for banning FGM and also the people who were campaigning vigorously for the past years to stop FGM.

Hon. Ebrima Solo Jammeh- NAM Foni Bintang Karanai

It is welcome news because the President sees the health implication in it and this is why he banned it.

Hon. Ablie Suku Singhateh-NAM Lower Badibou

The Gambian leader has taken a right move for banning FGM in the country and he deserves commendation for that wonderful move. As Gambians and non-Gambians alike we need to applaud President Jammeh.

Let us take the Gambian leader's decision wisely because whatever he does is for the interest of Gambians; this is why he finally decided to ban the practice throughout the country for which we should say "Thank You Mr. President".

Hon. Alhagie Sankung Jammeh- NAM Foni Jarrol

President Jammeh's move is something that the Gambians welcome. The President said it took him 21 years doing research on FGM but what he has seen is that it is not in the Holy Quran and this is why he took this decision.

Momodou Mboge, assistant Country Representative of the UNFPA

The President's move is a good step in the right direction in the fight against FGM. The declaration is indeed a positive development.

Sira Ndow, Country Director UNAIDS

The declaration made by the President is a good move and the ban has come at the right time.

Mam Lisa Camara, coordinator of the Guardian Global Media Campaign to end FGM

The move is a great surprise to us but however, I would like to hail the President for the good move as a big step in the right direction. The campaigners have a lot to do now in the area of sensitisation at the community level. Let me once again thank the President for the bold step he has taken to stop the practice of FGM in The Gambia because the practice is harmful to women health.

Babucarr Camara: News editor, Daily Observer

The President will never cease to amaze me. In my opinion, this is the biggest news in The Gambia for a very long time and it has come at a time when it is least expected. The reaction of the people to the news overwhelmed me and I'm very happy with the positive comments it provoked since the news first came online on Monday night. The President has once again stolen the show by bringing together an entire nation.

So this is positive news because FGM is very bad and a harmful practice to the health of our women; unfortunately some people hide behind religion to advance their argument. There is no gainsaying that the consequences of FGM include severe pain and bleeding, difficulty in passing urine, infections, injury to nearby genital tissue and sometimes death through severe bleeding.

Now the National Assembly should make a follow-up with the proper legislation to criminalize it.

Maria Saine, programme officer, Safe Hands for Girls

The move taken by the President would strengthen the advancement of the efforts of the campaigners in the area of FGM to advance the course of women and girls in the important sectors such as education and health. The FGM campaign has been going on for the past 30 years but now the campaigners have the highest political will from His Excellency the President and his government. As Gambians in the fight against FGM, we will still appeal to have a law to be passed in parliament for its actual criminalisation.

Muhammed Dibbasey, a member of Safe Hand for Girls:

I heard the news around 11pm on Tuesday and I'm thanking the President for the significant achievements he has made in the fight against FGM. I would now urge the government to help us to make it a law in parliament.

Wilson .F. Okoi, a member of Safe Hands for Girls

I would like to thank the Gambian leader for the giant step he has taken to ban the FGM practice in the country.

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