By Sarata Jabbi
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons – WHO.
The practice is a cultural believes that has been in existence for so many years and report has it that “more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated” – WHO.
Among the African countries that practice FGM Gambia is not an exception.
In an exclusive interview with FGM campaigner and the Secretary General to one of the Gambia’s anti FGM group in the UK called Care for Women and Girls (CAWAG), Mrs. Fatou Badjie-Ceesay said their organisation CAWAG was formed in 2013 with the aim to make difference through the following: dedicate to support and protect women and girls from all forms of harm, raising community awareness of the negative effects of harmful traditional practices, creating community social support for the abandonment of FGM etc.
“FGM is a violation to girls and women’s right and many people particularly The Gambia believed that the practice is a good cultural practice that purify girls make them become good future women/wives”. This idea she added is due to lack of awareness and the way forward is to involve more men and religious leaders in raising awareness, as this I believe is a collective responsibility, she explains.
Since the inception of CAWAG Madam Ceesay said they’ve had four successful community champions training on the effects of FGM and women’s health and leadership skills training, and three community events.
“With our hard work and enthusiasm I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to protect two young girls from being cut through securing asylum for them and their family. This is one of our biggest achievements”.
According to 2013 reports on the prevalence of FGM in The Gambia, an estimated 73.3% of girls and women have been subjected to the practice, and the age FGM is done on Gambian girls ranges from 7 days after birth up to pre-adolescence.
It could be recalled that sometime in November last year Gambian president had announced the ban to FGM, after series of campaign from different anti FGM organisations.
Female genital mutilation is prevalent in Gambia. According to a 2013 report, an estimated 76.3% of girls and women have been subjected to FGM/C. A 2006 UNICEF survey found a 78.3% prevalence rate in Gambia. The age when FGM is done on Gambian girls ranges from 7 days after birth up to pre-adolescence.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
The practice is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities, such as attending childbirths. In many settings, health care providers perform FGM due to the erroneous belief that the procedure is safer when medicalized1. WHO strongly urges health professionals not to perform such procedures.
- Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
- The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
- Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
- More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated1.
- FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
- FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
Care for Women and Girls (CAWAG) is a community organisation formed by a group of Gambian women in the UK. The group consists of survivors of Female Genital Mutilation, who having come from the same cultural background and share similar experiences are enthusiastic to make difference in the lives of women and girls.
Care for Women and Girls (CAWAG) is a charitable organisation formed by a group of Gambian women in the UK. Among this group are survivors of female genital mutilation who having come from the same cultural background and share similar experiences are enthusiastic to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. The group consist of 7 trustees including the Chairperson, Secretary General and Treasurer. There is also a separate advisory board who liaises with the trustees to ensure that the charity operates according to its charitable purpose.
We envision a world where women and girls live without the fear of harmful traditional practices.
CAWAG aims to make a difference through:
Raising community awareness of negative effects of harmful traditional practices and sign-post support services;
Liaising with agencies in the UK to take action against the malpractices against women and girls;
Creating community social support for the abandonment of FGM;
Conducting research on FGM, with the aim of improving knowledge on the subject;
Organising training with communities where Africans, Asians and Somalis form the majority; and
Addressing the religious aspect of FGM (Islam related misconception).
Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful traditional practice that has been performed around the world for generations. It is estimated that 66,000 victims of FGM/C are in the UK (including Gambians) and more than 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk, with victims as young as just a few weeks old.
The practice is invasive and requires the cutting, at minimum of the clitoris with a blade or knife and at worst cutting off the labia or stitching them together. The implication of this is not only psychological but also physical including complications during child birth at later years, haemorrhage, cyst and infection.
With this background, there is no doubt that the practice is a classic example of child abuse. As such, Care for Women and Girls (CAWAG) aims at supporting and protecting women and girls from such ghastly practices and ultimately eradicate FGM/C in the UK.
Our Mission: Dedicated to support and protect women and girls from harmful traditional practices.