Monday, April 1, 2013

"The Gambia will legislate against FGM by the end of 2013" Dr Touray

Dr Touray
The Gender Institute at the London School of Economics on the 18th March organized a public event to explore the Politics of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  The Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray was guest speaker at the event held at New Theatre, East building with a capacity 240 people.  Dr. Touray, renowned for her expertise in Gender and for her work as a leading anti- FGM campaigner beyond the boundaries of the tiny West African country, the Gambia, discussed the efforts being made to overcome the challenges to the abandonment of FGM.  In her paper titled “The Politics of FGM: The Influence of External and Locally-Led Initiatives in the Gambia,” Dr. Touray contextualizes Female Genital Mutilation as part of the development agenda throughout the world.  She argues that it is a development issue because it transcends the African continent. As inter and intra racial marriages are taking place so also is FGM an issue for immigrants in the Diaspora, she highlighted.

The paper refers to a study in which it is estimated that “66,000 women residing in England and Wales had undergone FGM, while 24,000 girls under 25 are at high risk or may have undergone FGM”(cited Dorkenoo et al 2007),, thus justifying her argument that immigrants from practicing ethnic groups should be engaged in eliminating FGM in the Diaspora.
Elaborating on the justification put forward for the continuation of the practice, Dr. Touray underscores how male fear of female sexuality is juxtaposed with patriarchal control of feminine pleasure in her assertion that “FGM is one of such and it has to do with preventing pleasure of women during sex. It is also about male sexual inadequacy of fulfilling their sexual duties to women, thus defining a way of curbing the power of the clitoris and the feminine pleasure.”
The paper looks at the multi-faceted arguments in the FGM debate such as religion, the discriminatory practices involved as well as from the Rights Based Approach and the  from the reproductive health perspective.
Emphasizing the need for a protective environment, Dr. Touray states that 20 African States where female genital mutilation is prevalent and a number of States in other parts of the world have enacted laws criminalizing the practice (A/61/122/Add.1 and Corr.1).   Looking closer to home, she said The Gambia government has also done a lot in its efforts to eradicate FGM, but needs to further ensure a protective environment for the health and wellbeing of women and children.  Dr. Touray notes with optimism that The Gambia will legislate against FGM by the end of 2013. 
Professor Sylvia Chant, Professor of Developmental Geography at the London School of Economics and Political Science chaired the event and it is supported by the LSE Annual Fund.     This event has been certified by the Continuing Professional Development Certification Service.  Delegates who registered their details with a LSE event steward at the event will obtain a Continuing Professional Development certificate of attendance. The well publicised event on the social media is also on a 95 minutes podcast on the LSE website.
Dr. Touray’s trip to England also availed her opportunity to promote the work of GAMCOTRAP and she had the opportunity to be interviewed on BBC Focus on Africa on the 19th March 2013 and other media outlets.
Author: Amie Bojang Sissoho

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