EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Gambia government’s ban on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) announced by former President Yahya Jammeh in December 2015 has been branded as one of the major conquers of the country by Prof. Adriana Kaplan, Director of Wassu Gambia Kafo.
At the opening of the 2nd International forum on FGM in The Gambia organised by her organisation at Coral Beach Hotel and Spa in Brufut on Monday, Prof. Kaplan said amendment of the Women’s Act banning Female Circumcision by the National Assembly protects girls and mothers, communities, and activists on ground. “Everyone has involved in the decision making and sensitisation and standing up firm for the abandonment of the practice.”
At a meeting in his native village of Kanilai in 2015, former President Jammeh announced his government’s ban on the decade long traditional practice and announced stiff penalties on anyone found practicing it. He immediate ordered for the amendment of the Women’s Act and the National Assembly’s enacting of an Act banning FGM.
“But we must be aware that applying the law is difficult, as shown in most of other countries where it has been banned for decades because there is a social and cultural environment where FGM/C is a deeply rooted tradition, mixed with religious misconceptions,” Prof. Kaplan said.
The two-day forum will also host the organisation’s commemoration of International day of Zero Tolerance on FGM/C on February 6. They day is honoured to sharing experiences and knowledge among people from Africa and Europe, based on recognition of the important role that proper and adequate scientific knowledge can play in efforts to end FGM/C, with the objective of improving girls´ and women´s health, recognizing their right to personal integrity and freedom, on a basis of social equality. The event also seeks to contribute to the 5.3 Sustainable Development Goals to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations.
“We know that prevalence still remains high globally and decline is much slower than expected, despite tremendous efforts have been done. In The Gambia, with the last estimations in 76%, three in four women and girls have undergone the practice in the country.”
She said old stakeholders continue the hard work on the field, new activists have come on board, several achievements have been accomplished, new challenges have arisen and old ones still remain deeply rooted.
In recent decades, Europe has become a destination for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. This has meant that healthcare, social services, justice, and schools have discovered different cultural practices, dealing with new challenges.
According to Prof. Kaplan, FGM/C has a negative social impact because it contravenes legal, medical and cultural values. In Europe, the practice presents profound professional dilemmas, stigmatizes women who have suffered from the practice and helps to re-enforce prejudices and stereotypes.