The latest to abandon the practise are 25 communities in CRR south.
This declaration followed a three-year community sensitisation programme initiated by Tostan on the harmful effects of FGC, early and forced marriages, health and hygiene, human rights and its related issues in our societies.
The grassroots NGO operating in URR since 2016 and now in CRR, has been “credited for massively transforming the lives and livelihoods of the beneficiary communities”. As a result of their continued commitment to enlightening the project beneficiary communities, other villages in the region are calling for the project to be expand.
The recent declaration ceremony which was held at Kerewan Dumbokono in the Upper Fulladou West District of CRR, created a platform for people from all walks of life to witness the outstanding achievements registered by Tostan in empowering communities, particularly the young ones with a view to getting them educated and subsequently free themselves from the harmful traditional practises such as FGC and forceful marriages among others.
During the Mini Declaration, “circumciser” within the area who also benefited from the Tostan CEP “willingly” abandoned the practice. They claimed that they have known that there are a lot of health complications involved in the practice, hence their decision to abandon it.
Sinchu Touray, who read the declaration statement on behalf of the 25 communities, said: “We the representatives of 35 communities in Sami and Niani districts of the CRR of The Gambia and our sensitised villages this Monday 19th December 2022 at Kuntaur Fula Kunda solemnly and with full knowledge declare to abandon the practices of FGC and child marriage in our communities.”
“Our historic decision, which aims to reinforce the National Movement for the promotion of Human Rights and health in The Gambia, in Africa and the world is based on the Community Initiative originated in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) in partnership with government of the Gambia through the Women’s Bureau/Directorate of Gender under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and other partners in URR and CRR since 2006 to date. The communities that are here with us today, reinforced with sensitisation and social mobilisation activities by the Community Management Committees and Social mobilisation agents.”
“We join the movement that started in Darsilameh Mandinka in Sandu District on the 15th of June 2009 and which has not ceased to shine in our region of URR, where more than 213 communities have now abandoned the practise of Female Genital Cutting and Child marriage to protect and promote women’s and girls’ health and sexuality.”
“Tostan makes our work so easy, especially between our Ward Development Committee and Village Development Committee. I also want to urge the committee of the area to do away with FGC. Now that you have known the implication involved in the practice, it’s important that you abandon it. We should abandon any culture that has health implications. Tostan doesn’t force us to abandon the negative issues affecting our communities. They instead teach us and show us the effect of such practise, thus let’s do away with it,” Omar Baldeh, the Ward councillor of Sare Soffie said.
Kemo Sissawo, a community health nurse in the area, said: “Tostan makes our work so easy. We work closely with their facilitators. The drama the participants demonstrate here clearly indicates that they understand the health implications of FGC. We do go around the villages within the area to sensitise them, but villages that have Tostan are different from others. The villages that work with Tostan always ensure that their children under the age of five years all have birth certificates. They also discuss the issue of malaria and the ways to fight it,” he posited.
Amie Demba, from the directorate of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment under the Ministry of Gender and Children, spoke on the transformation Tostan is making in CRR. She urged the beneficiary communities to make best use of the knowledge gained and disseminate it to other communities that do not have the project.
Before the Mini Declaration, Tostan organised a press briefing at Banjulinding between the community members and the journalists. The event avails them the opportunity to showcase the knowledge they gained from the project among others.