The controversial practice of genital mutilation or FGM is traditionally performed on women is widely practiced in Gambia particularly away from the urban areas and in the up-river rural areas. FGM involves the cutting away of parts of the outer female genitalia and estimated statistics show that approximately 80% of women have had it performed 1 or 2 years before their teens. The procedure is also practiced by 7 out of 9 ethnic groups in Gambia. The procedure is particularly prevalent in Africa. Female circumcision has less to do with religion and more to do with African culture as it is not something prescribed by Islam. In the Gambia the practice of FGM has traditionally been conducted in a context of secrecy, and excision is seen as giving power to girs in their rite of passage into womanhood.
This is a silent ,outdated and very dangerous tradition that is affecting the lives of many young girls in this country. In local villages instruments used to perform the procedure are usually not sterile and it is usually performed by a traditional practitioner with a variety of crude instruments and without anaesthetic. Often many girls are operated on during a single ritual ceremony. In these cases the same razor or knife is often used on a number of girls.
The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of women and children (Gamcotrap) yesterday conducted a national consultative forum and dialogue on the proposed bill to prohibit the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the country. With a cross section of community representatives from across the country supported by Save the Children International and UN Women was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel. This is a step towards the right direction in erradicating this harmful tradition . Gamcotrap is a leading women’s rights grassroots NGO that promotes the rights and wellbeing of women and children in The Gambia.