International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation
In keeping with WLUML’s work to end all forms of violence against girls and women, we would like to commemorate the 6th of February, International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, by promoting the honourable work of our sisters and long-time WLUML network members in Gambia.
For many years, The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices affecting the health of women and Children, GAMCOTRAP, has been engaging in proactive advocacy to protect the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children against harmful traditional practices. Key amongst such harmful practices is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
GAMCOTRAP’s ‘Dropping of the Knife to end Female Genital Mutilation’ initiative has been central to this struggle. Communities have responded to the call to protect girls from FGM with three ‘Dropping of the Knife’ celebrations involving 98 Circumcisers and 564 Communities in the Gambia. Currently consensus has been reached for 29 other Circumcisers and 366 Communities in the Central River North Region of the Gambia to make a public declaration to Drop their Knives and protect girls from FGM by 2013.
More recently and as part of the 16 days of activism against gender violence, GAMCOTRAP worked with rural communities and the grassroots to tackle the issue of FGM. They also worked on the sensitization of the security forces from various units who were trained to be aware of the Gambia’s commitment to protect women and girls from FGM.
Over 200 women of reproductive age from villages in five areas in the central river region were involved. In addition, 500 village heads, Kabilo leaders, and opinion leaders were approached to engage in an open dialogue about FGM in the region.
GAMCOTRAP was also one of the organizations that participated at the last Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting held in New York. In her capacity as the Secretary General of the Inter African Committee, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP and WLUML Board member, Dr. Isatou Touray, was at a side event which brought together various countries and Ministers for Women’s Affairs to discuss the issue of FGM and place it on the global agenda.
This collective effort culminated in the drafting of a resolution called “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation” which was recently put up for discussion at the UN General Assembly by the African Group at the UN.
In the spirit of international solidarity and to mark this international day, WLUML asks that we all continue to support the work of GAMCOTRAP. Only through awareness raising, strong advocacy and laws that ban this practice, will we see an end to the heartbreaking pain that the survivors of FGM live with every day.
For more information on our sister organization, GAMCOTRAP, please visit their website.