The Gambia

Country: The Gambia

Population: 1.9 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

76.3% & 348,824 women aged 15+ cut

Data Source MICS 2010
15 – 49 (%) 76.3
15 - 19 (%) 77.1
45 - 49 (%) 79.0
Urban (%) 74.6
Rural (%) 78.1
Lowest Region (%) 49.2
Highest Region (%) 99.0
Nicked, no flesh removed (%) 0.1
Flesh removed (%) 89.0
Sewn closed (%) 8.9
Traditionally performed (%) 98.5
Medically performed (%) 0.1
National law Legal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

The most widely practiced forms are Type I and Type II.

Legal status:

There is no law in The Gambia that specifically outlaws the practice of FGC. To date, there have been no court cases concerning this issue.

History of FGC in the Gambia:

FGC is known to have been performed on young girls before the birth of Islam or Christianity and subsequently cuts across cultural and religious lines. In The Gambia, the practice of FGC has traditionally been conducted in a context of secrecy and excision is considered to give girls the power to pass into womanhood.

A Symposium for Religious Leaders and Medical Personnel on FGC as a Form of Violence was organised by The Gambia Committee against Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP). This resulted in the Banjul Declaration of July 22, 1998, which declared that the practice does not hold Islamic nor Christian origins.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

Tostan is one organisation working to end FGC in The Gambia through their Community Empowerment Programme (CEP), a three-year, informal, rights-based education programme.  The programme was launched in The Gambia in 2007 in partnership with UNICEF in over 150 rural communities to develop awareness of human rights and spark productive discussion regarding harmful traditional practices such as FGC. To date, 127 communities in The Gambia have declared abandonment of FGC as a result of the Tostan programme. Tostan continues its efforts in the country, currently working in about 115 communities.

GAMCOTRAP organises training workshops and programmes, including video viewing, to provide information on the harmful effects of FGC. It is also developing new strategies to provide cutters with alternate ways of earning a living. Workshops held during women’s week in The Gambia reached at least 5000 women. Lectures are also held around the country to reach the entire populace.

BAFROW (Foundation for Research on Women's Health, Productivity & Development) was established in 1991 to carry out health and environment projects. BAFFROW aims to eradicate FGC while respecting the importance of the social and cultural traditions associated with the rites of passage to womanhood. It helps communities develop alternative rites of passage that emphasise girls’ rights as individuals, their health, religious education and community responsibilities ("initiation without mutilation”).

Ongoing challenges:

There is a vested interest in continuing this practice in The Gambia. 98% of the cutters are traditional practitioners that supplement their main income with the money from FGC. Sometimes, the income they earn from performing FGC is often higher than what they earn in their main profession. Their social status also improves as a cutter, and therefore they are usually committed to maintaining the practice.

In 1999, President Jammeh announced that The Gambia would not ban their traditional harmful practices. He also stated that FGC was part of Gambian culture. Several members of the National Assembly and the Supreme Islamic Council have publicly supported continuation of FGC. The Vice President, on the other hand, has voiced support for reform.

Additional information:

One of the results of the extensive outreach efforts in the country has been that the topic is now an issue that concerned Gambians are willing to address publicly. Articles regularly appear in the local papers and opposing views on the subject are debated in editorials and letters to the editors.

However, unlike many African countries the percentage of women aged 15-19 that have undergone FGC (79.9%) is actually higher than the percentage of women age 35-39, which stands at 79.5%. This stands in contrast to the general pattern of decline (to varying extents) in FGC that has been documented across most of Africa. This also corresponds with the perception of FGC in The Gambia, as 64% of girls and women believe the practice should continue. Of these women, 37% cite self-esteem as their main reason for FGC.

Practising ethnic groups:

Mandinka 98%

Fula/Peul 32%

Wolof 4%

Diola

Sarahule

Serer

Aku

Marabout

Tilibonka

Karonika

Languages:

English (official)

Mandinka

Wolof

Fula

Pulaar

Major religions:

Islam 90%

Christian 8%

Indigenous beliefs 2%

In the news:

UNFPA News - “Against our rights as women”

The Point - Art exhibition focusing on female health and sexuality, including FGC, taking place in The Gambia

The Point - Young People in the Media (YPM) held a two-day stakeholder forum on FGC

Daily Observer - Anti-FGC campaign walk attracts hundreds of participants in Basse

Daily Observer - Youth organisation held a two-day sensitisation on anti-FGC laws

Daily Observer - The vice president and Women’s Affairs minister Njie-Saidy has reaffirmed government’s relentless will and political commitment to ending of all forms of violence against women and girls.

The Point - The Girl Generation (TGG) commenced a five-day training of trainers on FGC social change communication; the training brought together 40 participants from five regions of The Gambia

Daily Observer - At least 130 women alongside personnel from the health and police units drawn within four of the six districts in the Lower River Region, recently concluded a four-day sensitisation forum on the Women’s Amendment Act

The Point - Safe Hands for Girls, a youth organization, recently held a two-day training session for 60 students in the Greater Banjul Area on FGC and advocacy

All Africa - Youth for Development receives grant aimed at creating awareness on the dangers of FGC to change societal concepts towards the practice and familiarise citizens with anti-FGC law

Daily Observer - 30 Kombo South Women Sensitised on Women’s Act, FGC Law

UN Women - Ndyandin Dawara, a Gambian woman, made the decision after taking part in training provided by the GAMCOTRAP, not to cut her daughter

ENCA - A women's rights activist in the Gambia has said she will put herself forward as the country's first ever female presidential candidate

The Daily Observer - The amended edition of the Women's Act now prohibits the practice of FGC, however, there are calls for action at regional levels to help educate the general public surrounding the amendments

Daily Observer - The Girl Generation launches a National Youth Anti-FGC Network

The Point - Safe Hands for Girls have launched a radio campaign to end FGC in rural areas

The Point - The Girls Agenda have created an awareness forum on gender based violence and related issues for Islamic schools, engaging 200 students and teachers

Daily Observer - Two women charged with requesting, inciting, promoting, and failing to report FGC being performed on five month old girl who later died

International Business Times - Husbands face 20 years in jail under child marriage ban

Ebony - A Gambian-turned-Bronx resident shares her personal FGC story and explains how it is happening to young U.S. residents through 'vacation cuts'

Jollof News - The role of Gambian men in the fight against FGC

The Point - The Women's Bureau and TANGO holds advocacy meeting on GBV and FGC

All Africa – Women and students from communities in Jokadu, Lower and Upper Niumi empowered to end FGC with facts about the practice

Daily Observer - African Commission on Human Rights praising Gambia for efforts in prioritisation of human rights matters

The Guardian - Religious leaders are vital to ending FGC in Gambia for good

The Point - Ending FGC in Gambia will be challenging in coming years

All Africa - Two women charged with four different criminal charges for practicing FGC, plead 'not guilty' but will remain in custody until 15 March 2016 court date

All Africa - Two women arrested for practicing FGC after child dies as a result of procedure

The Point - Just months after Gambia outlawed FGC, the government remanded two people for practicing FGC

The Point - Gambia signs agreement to implement AmplifyChange Project

Manchester News - Gender policy advisor working to end FGC and further women's rights

All Africa - The Gambian Vice President and Women's Affairs Minister praises stakeholders for supporting ban on FGC

CFR - Criminalizing FGC in Gambia not enough to deter people from continuing practice

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP to invite delegates from all over Africa, many from Gambia, to observe International Zero Tolerance Day

Daily Observer - Bringing an end to harmful cultural norms, including FGC in Gambia

The Point - Protecting women from FGC proving difficult

Quartz Africa - Criminalisation of FGC could result in penalties of lifetime sentences for violators of new law

Global Voices - Parliamentarians in the West African state pass bill that criminalises FGC following the President's ban on the practice in November 2015

All Africa - President Yahya Jammeh issued a strong Presidential Directive/Proclamation officially banning FGC in The Gambia

The Guardian - Gambia bans FGC

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP sensitises Islamic scholars and students on effects of FGC

Daily Observer - Sara Louba circumcisers join campaign to end FGC

All Africa - She She She: Jujuwoo No Child's playground, We Cut Women not Children

All Africa – Voices of rural women on issues affection them

All Africa – TYW program manager optimistic about enhancement of law to criminalise FGC

All Africa – Women in Niamina consent to dropping the knife by 2015

All Africa'Child sexual abuse is a growing social problem,' says feminist and child's rights activists

All Africa - 72 percent of URR population go through FGC

All Africa – She She She: FGC practice in Gambia, is it breakable?

The Point – She She She: 'Women's Act 2010 does not adequately address FGM, marital rape, child marriage'

All Africa – Half a million US women and girls at risk of FGC

All Africa – Think Young Women prepares youth to be anti-FGC advocates

All Africa – 30 youth advocates undergo training on FGC

Birmingham Mail – FGC survivor reflects on her experience as a young girl and her life since as an activist against FGC

All Africa - As part of the Global media campaign to end FGC, the Guardian plans to train local journalists to help end the practice

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP trains 50 new facilitators on the negative effects of FGC

All Africa - Circumcisers unite to promote ‘One Billion Rising Revolution’ in anti-FGC celebrations

Star Africa - The Guardian launches anti-FGC campaign in The Gambia

All Africa – GAMCOTRAP hosts FGC talks during 16 Days of Activism

All Africa - Actionaid International, The Gambia educates youth on lasting effects of FGC

The Guardian - First national youth forum on FGC is convened

All Africa - EU launch a crusade to improve women's rights and end FGC in Gambia

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP and UNFPA launch an anti-FGC crusade to end FGC in two districts of the North Bank Region

All Africa - Tostan Gambia, Senegal vow to curb FGC

All Africa - UNFPA supports GAMCOTRAP to eliminate FGC

All Africa - Global Hands, GAMCOTRAP on FGC

All Africa - Regional conferees discuss FGC

Jollof News - GAMCOTRAP pays tribute to Bijou Peters

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP engages religious leaders as they look forward to ending FGC

All Africa - Sub-regional dialogue to end FGC opens in Banjul

Jollof News - Engaging religious leaders towards ending FGC

Al lAfrica - Community leaders welcome campaign against FGC in the Niaminas

All Africa - Eradicating FGC

FIGO - Gambian organisation briefs religious leaders on FGC

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP Sensitizes religious scholars on FGC

All Africa - Global Hands launches 'The Graveyard Cannot Pray'

All Africa - 38 communities in URR Abandon FGC

All Africa - GAMCOTRAP sensitises communities on FGC

All Africa - Women leaders resolve to engage peers, communities to abandon FGC

FIGO - GAMCOTRAP educates journalists on impact of FGC

BBC - Gambian women fleeing FGC threat

The Daily Observer (Banjul) - UNFPA/UNICEF FGC programme coordinator visits

The Daily Observer (Banjul) - Governor Sanneh: 'Women and girls' rights should be respected'

FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda) - 21 URR communities abandon FGC

FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda) - New York-based UNFPA/UNICEF FGC programme coordinator visits GAMCOTRAP project beneficiaries

FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda) - Kombo central opinion leaders trained on FGC

FIGO - 'Mini-declaration ceremony' held as Gambian communities abandon FGC

The Point - GAMCOTRAP takes another giant step in stopping FGC

The Daily Observer (Banjul) - 21 Sarahuleh communities abandon FGC in URR

The Daily Observer (Banjul) - Anti-FGC crusade gaining momentum

The Point (Banjul) - 30 community-based facilitators certified in advocacy strategies to end FGC

The Point (Banjul) - GAMCOTRAP convenes National Consultative Forum on proposed bill to prohibit FGC in Gambia

Trustlaw - From prisoner to hero: Activist persuades Gambia to ban FGC

FOROYAA (Gambia) - GAMCOTRAP celebrates fourth Dropping of the Knife in CRR North

The Daily Observor (Banjul) - 21 communities in URR abandon FGC

The Daily Observor (Banjul) - Niani & Sami communities sensitised on FGC

FIGO - Efforts to curb FGC in Gambia paying off

FORAYAA – Celebration of the Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women (by Dr Isatou Touray, Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP)

FOROYAA Newspaper (Serrekunda) – GAMCOTRAP commends UN for taking FGC campaign further

The Daily Observor (Banjul) – Women leaders sensitised on the dangers of female genital cutting

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