Sunday, 10 March 2013 22:58(JollofNews) – Moving from fear of saying the word Female Circumcision almost three decades ago, the Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children - GAMCOTRAP took the lead in taking courage to say violence in any form cannot continue to keep women in captivity.
It has taken action by taking courage to discuss, dialogue, advocate, train and mobilize women and men of different social standing and age to realize that the Gambian girls and women are part of those affected by the long held traditional practice of Female Genital Mutilation and other harmful practices undermining the dignity of women and girls.
Our constructive engagement with the media regarding women’s rights has made them realize that they are part of society and have crucial roles to play in informing and educating the citizen to realize that we all have a responsibility to take the necessary action to protect women and girls from all forms of violence.
Taking the leadership role in this strive to make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the Gambia, has attracted media attention to the significant role GAMCOTRAP plays in the promotion of Women’s Rights in the Gambia.
GAMCOTRAP dedicate this day to the Media both Conventional and traditional for educating the Gambian public about the work we do in Promoting Women’s Rights. Through the lens of the Media, the population is aware of the effects of female genital mutilation and early marriage on women and children.
To celebrate international Women’s Day 2013, several Media houses in the Gambia and abroad have reached out to GAMCOTRAP to share its view on the theme of this important day in the calendar of women’s lives.
It could be recalled that GAMCOTRAP took action to end one of the deep-rooted cultural forms of violence - FGM - by bringing together Chiefs, Women Councillors , Akalolu, Imams and other institutions working to protect and promote the rights of women and children to validate a Proposed Bill to Prohibit Female Genital Mutilation in the Gambia.
This is a manifestation that the call for a law comes from the people, and for policy makers and legislators to realise that it is a popular call to protect girls from FGM.
It is also the advice coming from our National Assembly Members that the Proposed Bill on FGM be subjected to a National Consultation and this was done on the 10th of January 2013. The population has come to consensus about a law to protect the innocent girl-child from FGM.
A GAMCOTRAP report (May July 2012) have it that 86.2 percent of respondents amongst Religious leaders consider Female Genital Mutilation as Violence Against Women and Children, while 51.7 percent said they did not think FGM is a religious obligation.
The same report also indicated that there is high ignorance about FGM and Islam because 20.7 percent did not know if FGM was an obligation or not.
Such indicators of change in perceptions have over the years contributed to actions to protect girls and women from the effects of the practice.
Between 2007 and 2013, GAMCOTRAP have recorded that 128 Circumcisers and over 900 communities in the Gambia have publicly declared their decision to protect Girls from such violence. This will be further manifested on the 13th April 2013, when 30 Circumcisers and 336 Communities in the Central River North will make a public declaration of their stand against FGM in Wassu District.
The engage of the media in promoting women’s rights is evident in the effort made by some of them to bring out the issues on women. In 2008, The News and Report identified the work of GAMCOTRAP and named Dr. Touray the Gambian of the year.
In this year’s celebration of IWD, seven Media houses and agencies reached out to GAMCOTRAP to share its work and efforts around ending violence against women. These include, Reuters, Africa Democracy Radio, Daily Observer, FOROYAA newspaper, Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS Television), Africa Press Agency, Capital FM and Unique FM.
GAMCOTRAP has offered interviews and participated in the panels. Also GAMCOTRAP will also talk to young people at the American Corner at Kairaba Avenue on the theme: “Young Men Ending Violence.”
GAMCOTRAP also celebrates International Women’s Day with a release of a video called “The Gambia Rising: Rural Women Rising and Dancing” developed from the recent One Billion Rising championed in the Gambia by Dr. Isatou Touray and supported by V-Day.
Once again GAMCOTRAP would like to congratulate all communities for validating the need to protect girls from FGM; the Government of the Gambia for taking actions towards prohibiting FGM by law and thank the media in particular for sharing the work of GAMCOTRAP and highlighting the issues of women in the bid to bring attention to the need to take action now, because ‘a promise is a promise’ and there is need to take legislative measures to prohibit FGM and compliment the community support to protect girls and women from the harm inflicted on them in the name of culture.
To our colleagues working on Women’s Rights, Child Rights and all forms of violence against women A lutta continua!! GAMCOTRAP wishes you a happy International Women’s Day!!!
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