By Ramatoulie Jawo
On Tuesday, the National Youth Parliament (NYP) debated the government’s role and responsibility in protecting women and girls from female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) and other forms of inhuman treatment.
Essa Sanneh, the representative for Latrikunda Sabiji, tabled the motion, calling FGM “a serious violation of the rights of girls and women.”
“FGM represents an extreme infringement on the rights to dignity, life, health, and integrity of women and girls. It does not only perpetuate gender inequality and discrimination but also poses significant risks to their physical and psychological well-being, sexual and reproductive health rights, and access to education,” he argued.
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He recognized the 2015 amendment to the Women’s Act as a notable advancement in combating FGM, and emphasized the need for substantial endeavors to completely eradicate the practice.
“While some progress has been made over the last decade, including the promulgation of an act against FMG, it is acknowledged that more work is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 and end FM by 2030,” he added.
Hon. Gazali Kambi, the representative of Brikama North, emphasized the religious significance of female circumcision in Islam, stating, “People are spending their energy on things that have no relevance. We are religious people; we should stay true to our religion. We shouldn’t allow anyone to influence that.”
He also voiced his discontent with the actions taken by the NYP leadership in their efforts to campaign against FGM.
“I think NYP has a lot to do, and I was pretty disappointed about NYP when only a few individuals sitting in one corner wrote on behalf of everybody saying FGM should be banned and nobody should speak about promoting FGM. We did not know about it,” he stressed.
In her remarks, Hon. Sarata Ceesay, the nominated member representing the West Coast, expressed her bewilderment at the fact that men often seem more informed about women’s issues than women themselves. She went on to suggest that if the Women’s Act were effectively enforced, many of the prevailing issues could be resolved, stating, “Looking at this country, if the Women’s Act was properly implemented, then all these problems would have been solved.”
Sabach Sanjal Member Bukary Gaye extends empathy to women and girls and stresses the importance of unity in supporting the fight against FGM.
“Looking at our generation, you will believe that men have no empathy for women. We should advocate for the ending of FGM. All of us here today, when we go back to our constituency, we should make sure we advocate for the ending of FGM,” he said.