By: Nyima Sillah
The coordinator of Think Young Women, a sub regional rights group promoting the rights of women has called on the government to take meaningful steps and strengthen laws with regards to female genital mutilation which was banned during the previous regime.
Musu Bakoto Sawo made the appeal following the recent incident which occurred in the Central River Region of Bakadagi where a woman was caught circumcising two teenage girls in the village.
A local rights group GAMCOTRAP which has been campaigning for the abolition of the ancient traditional practice has released a press release calling for the prosecution of the offender for violating the law.
Speaking to this medium, Musu Bakoto opined that there is a need for the government to take necessary steps to strengthen our laws with the hope that this would be the first step towards prosecution of offenders of the harmful traditional practice.
“The Government must take more meaningful steps to ensure the effective implementation of the law. We hope this would be the first successfully prosecuted case of FGM. Perpetrators need to be held accountable in accordance with the law. An example must be made of this case,” she told The Voice yesterday.
She claimed that in the past, the police have received very few cases on FGM but it is unclear why there has not been a successful prosecution of any of the reported cases, noting that in March 2016 the police had investigated a similar case involving a five-month baby who died after she was circumcised.
“Charges were brought against the grandmother and mother of the baby, as well as the ‘Ngansimba’. The matter was heard at the Banjul Magistrate Court, where the accused persons were arraigned with the exception of the ‘Ngansimba’ while it was alleged that the ‘Ngansimba’ absconded, what remains unclear is the outcome of the case,” she recalled.
However, she added in the 2016 Annual Report of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Program on Female Genital Mutilation reported two offenders were arrested and prosecuted on FGM cases with sanction imposed.
“No further information has been provided in respect of these two cases. So we are hoping that this time around, the case will be successfully prosecuted and the perpetrator(s) will be held accountable in accordance with the law.”
Mrs. Sawo is of the view that since there are laws in place, there is still a need to amplify sensitization for public awareness in order to stop the practice which is a total violation of human rights, while appealing to CSOs and religious leaders to continue the consolidation process.