At least 130 women alongside personnel from the health and police units drawn within four of the six districts in the Lower River Region, recently concluded a four-day sensitisation forum on the Women’s Amendment Act; banning the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in The Gambia.
The seminar, organised by Women’s Bureau with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), was held simultaneously in Pakaliba and Jappineh as well as in Kiang Kiaf and Keneba villages respectively.
Welcoming the participants in Pakaliba, Halimatou Colley, the Communication Officer of Women’s Bureau, explained that the four-day sensitisations on the anti/FMG Law targets 130 stakeholders, which includes women leaders, police, child welfare officers and health personnel in the region.
She underscored the objective of the sensitisation which is to enhance the understanding of the participants on the Women’s Amendment Act. The forum, she went on, is part of similar undertaking embarked upon by Women’s Bureau with the goal of educating and empowering the communities especially women and girls on their rights and responsibilities within society.
“What we want them to know and understand is that FGM is not only harmful, but it goes along with life-long health and psychological implications on women and girls. It’s against this negative impact that the Government of The Gambia enacted a Law through the Women Amendment Act; banning the Practice of FGM/C in the country.” she said
She reminded the gathering that the practice of FGM/C is not only against the constitution of The Gambia, but that the punishment for the crime also attracts a three-year jail terms and D50, 000 or both.
According to her, where the crime leads to the death of a person, the punishment for that crime carries a life sentence for the offender.
Binta B.Sanyang-Sonko of Bafrow who is also a resource person at the forum, harped on the negative impact of FGM/C, noting that it poses a health risk.
Sanyang maintained that it has both short term and long-term health complications on the life and wellbeing of women and girls in our society.
“FGM can also cause chronic back and pelvic pain and can also lead to excessive bleeding and thus poses a health risk to women and girls.” she said
While advising participants to desist from the practice, Sonko equally challenged them to disseminate the knowledge gained to the wider communities in their various localities.
On her part, Jarra Jallow, the Lady Councillor for Jarra East, commended Women’s Bureau and UNFPA for the initiative.
She promised that the information gained from the forum will be share with colleagues in their various districts.
Mariatou Bah, the Lady Councillor for Kiang East, also expressed similar sentiment.
by Salifu M. Touray in LRR