Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Women Circumcisers to Drop Knives

Dr Isatou Touray, the executive director of GAMCOTRAP has revealed that more women circumcisers will drop their knives this year.
She said, a public declaration of dropping the knife will be held in the rural-Lower River region, to be followed by similar events in various regions in 2012. The dates and venues are not confirmed yet.
GAMCOTRAP, is a women’s rights advocacy group that has been fighting to eliminate harmful traditional practices in Gambia.  
And ‘Dropping the Knife’ represents a landmark event in the fight to eradicate the deep-rooted cultural practice of female genital mutilation in Gambia.
Under the auspices of GAMCOTRAP, the first ever public declaration of dropping the knife was held in 2007 at the Independence Stadium where eighteen women circumcisers publicly vowed to have abandoned female circumcision.
This was followed by a bigger one held in the provincial capital of Upper River Region, Basse, in 2009 where over 60 women circumcisers have also declared to have stopped the practice.
Both moves came after years of intensive training of the women and even men on the effects of the practice.  GAMCOTRAP also provides an alternative source of income by facilitating the creation of small-scale business ventures to those who earn income from the practice. 
Dr Touray, who was speaking to journalists at a similar programme in the Kombo North of West Coast region said, many more women will drop their knives.
Underway at Sukuta Health Center, the training is the second phase of the project that seeks to accelerate the abandonment of the practice and is being jointly funded by Save the Children Sweden and U.N Women Trust Fund.
The three-day exercise kicked off on Saturday, bringing together local government authorities, community leaders, women leaders, among others from various villages in Kombo North.
Dr Touray said, her organisation is now focusing on the Western Coast Region particularly in the Kombo North and the 75 participants will be trained  on among other issues, the dangers of FGM to the health and wellbeing of the society.
She added that a wide range of health and human rights issues such as increased in maternal and reproductive health problems, complications at childbirth and difficulties in menstruation among others will be discussed during the three day period.
 “We are moving on,” she said, disclosing that Lower River Region will be the next region to make public declaration later this year to be followed by the northern part of Central River Region and hopefully the West Coast Region.
Meanwhile, addressing participants earlier was the Deputy Governor of West Coast Region Fatou T. Sanneh. She lauded the efforts GAMCOTRAP in taking the lead in protecting Gambian women as well as girl’s wellbeing.
For Aji Kumba Barry, National Women Councilor, Kombo North  the practice of female genital mutilation is discriminatory in nature. She said, some women who had undergone the practice in their childhood still live with the effects of it.
The Alkalo of Sukuta Village Alhajie Momodou Cham, who gave the welcoming remarks said, the large turnout of the women is significant.
He urged participants to make good use of the training and transmit what they will be taught in their communities.

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