By Sarata Jabbi
Care for Women and Girls (CAWAG) Birmingham in partnership with FORWARD during the weekend organised a community event to celebrate
International Women’s Day and Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), at Newtown Community Centre Birmingham.
The aim of the event was to raise awareness within the Gambian community of Birmingham on issues affecting the lives of women and girls particularly those from an FGM practising family.
In her welcoming remarks Mrs. Fatou Badgie-Ceesay secretary general of CAWAG has this to say, “CAWAG is a community organisation that was founded in 2013 by a group of Gambian women in the UK with the aim to dedicate support and protect women and girls from harmful traditional practices”.
She added that since inception they have achieved some of their goals which includes protecting girls from being taking abroad during summer to be circumcise/mutilated, organised four community champion training, helping women with housing and immigration issues, setting up girls’ and men speak-out group etc.
Mrs Ceesay called on the Gambian community Birmingham to get involve in campaigning against any forms of traditional practice that is against human well-being. She added that “if we all become advocates and say no to FGM, and Domestic violence means we are creating a safer future for our children”.
Speaking on behalf of Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development, FORWARD, Mrs. Yvette Robin-Coker said they are committed to gender equality and safeguarding the rights of African girls and women. She however expressed gratitude towards their partnership with CAWAG, “we actually work through partnerships in the UK, Europe and Africa to transform lives, tackling discriminatory practices that affect the dignity and well-being of girls and women. Our focus is on female genital mutilation child marriage and obstetric fistula”.
She emphasised the importance of the celebration of the international women’s day and zero tolerance to FGM. “This day is about celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women for their economic, political and social achievements, as well as to stand tall and say no to female genital mutilation (FGM)”.
Mrs Robin-Coker advised audiences to safeguard their girls from facing any harmful traditional practices. “Let’s motivate our girls and make sure they stay in education, by doing so we are empowering them and building self-esteem in them”.
Speaking on the effects of FGM Alison Byrne FGM specialist and a midwife at Heartlands hospital Birmingham described FGM as a procedure that involves partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non medical reasons. FGM has huge effects and complications on women during sex and child birth, and it affect some women psychologically and as result some lives with the trauma for the rest of their life, she disclosed. “There is a law against it in the UK and that is anybody found practising it will be fine or jail for a maximum of 14 years imprisonment”.
The event was attended by the Gambian community in and surrounding of Birmingham, gender activists, religious scholars, health experts, police crime and commission unit and other charity organisations.