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|
|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|
The most widely practiced forms are Type I and Type II.
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”).
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.
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:
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