Friday, March 19, 2010

GAMCOTRAP Takes Campaign to LRR

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA(MB)-The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children (GACOTRAP) in partnership with ODAM ONGd, a Spanish NGO, recently conducted a sensitisation programme in the Lower River Region (LRR) on the issues surrounding FGM, and on the protection of women and childrens’ rights.
The training workshop attended by over 350 participants targeted community leaders including chiefs, alkalolus, women of reproductive age, and youths, among others, from six districts in LRR.
A media release made available to the News and Report, stated that the aim of the training session was to create awareness on issues of traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), early and forced marriage, and inheritance. Also on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues affecting women and girls, including gender-based violence.
In welcoming participants, the chief of Jarra West, Yaya Jarjusey, spoke at length about FGM and Gambians’ perceptions, pointing out that the campaign to stop FGM has been a topic for about 20 years now.
It is high time for a law to be enacted against FGM, he said, adding that many African countries have abolished FGM. “We (Gambia), have to move on with the changing circumstances in life”.
Jarjusey informed participants that the advocacy for a law on FGM in the Gambia is advancing as GAMCOTRAP has engaged National Assembly members about the effects of FGM.
According to Jarjusey, FGM is not a religious obligation, and it affects women’s sexual and reproductive health.
He assured GAMCOTRAP of his region’s unflinching support for the next “Dropping of the Knife Celebration” to be held in his region.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of GAMCORRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray, told the gathering that her organisation works on the promotion of women’s rights and awareness raising, and called on the people to join the “noble crusade”.
According to Dr. Touray, “our concerted efforts for the promotion of positive traditional practices would protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in order to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity, among our women and young girls”.
She told participants that The Gambia has signed and ratified international and regional conventions to protect women and children from FGM and other harmful traditional practices that need to be domesticated.
According to Dr. Touray, the lack of a law against FGM in the country has created opportunities for people from neighbouring Senegal and other border countries to come to the Gambia and practice FGM.
She also advised that no girl should be a school drop out because of early or forced marriage.
Honorable Bafaye Saidykhan of the area advised the youths to pay attention to the messages that GAMCOTRAP is sending across, and to share the information with colleagues.
The chairman Mansakonko Area Council, Foday Camara also spoke at the event, which exposed participants to issues of gender-based violence, women and childrens’ rights, Islam and FGM.

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