By: Musa O. Bah
The Gambian, on Monday, joined the rest of the world to observe the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM in an event held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, Bijilo.
In her opening statement, Marianne G. Jabang, the representative of the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, said the day is included in the global goals under Sustainable Development Goal 5 for Gender Equality, Target 5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation and cutting.
“This day marks a significant moment as the world recognizes FGM as a truly universal issue. More than 140 million girls and women throughout the world have undergone FGM. The recognition of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a gross violation of the human rights of girls and women is well established in numerous international legal instruments,” she expressed.
However, she added that eliminating FGM is an essential step to realizing many of the other Sustainable Development Goals including targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work, and economic growth.
Ms reminded the gathering that a bill was passed at the National Assembly on December 28, 2015, criminalizing the practice of FGM in The Gambia. While adding that many countries have ratified international treaties that prohibit it.
However, she noted that there is growing evidence that FGM is a practice in The Gambia and is done or performed throughout childhood.
“Monitoring the practice of FGM and enforcing the law continue to be challenging. Although FGM reflects gender inequalities and violence against women and is prohibited by the Women’s Amendment Act 2015. FGM continues to be practiced in The Gambia as most of the practicing communities, if not all of them, consider it obligatory on them by religion (Islam) or as socially acceptable to subject their women and girls to this harmful traditional practice,” she added.
According to her, in the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICs) 50.6 percent of those aged 0–14 years and 75.7 percent of women aged 15–49 years had undergone FGM. The 2019-2020 Gambia Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) shows a slight decrease, 73 percent of women aged 15-49 years undergoing the procedure compared to 75 percent in 2013.
“The Government of the Gambia and partners are striving hard to design and implement policies and programmes to eradicate FGM/C such as the FGM/C policy, the strategic plan, the formative research study on the determinants of female genital mutilation and child marriage to name a few. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social welfare with support from partners also engaged in a series of activities to eliminate FGM/C,” she pointed out.