10 September 2014


Hundreds celebrate female circumcision in Bakoteh

Hundreds of dancing and drumming women turned out Saturday to take part in festivities marking the end of circumcision rites for young girls in Bakoteh. This, despite the spirited campaign being waged by the NGO, Gamcotrap. A supporter of the practice, Bakoteh alkalo Metta Jassey told The Standard: “We understand from the teachings of Islamic clerics that this is approved by the prophet and whatever the prophet does is in pursuit of Allah's commands. We do not embark on anything without seeking the opinion of Islamic scholars and we know this to be a very good thing which we have always practised from our forefathers to date. This is good for our children and we will do it as the prophet advised without deferring to anyone else because Allah and His prophet came before Gamcotrap. They can say whatever they want to say but we will do what the prophet said because we believe that is the right thing.” Also wading in on the issue, former KMC deputy mayor and Bakoteh resident, Yusupha Sanyang, posited: “This practice goes back a long time in our culture and it is believed to have benefits for those who undergo it. This is important in meeting the requirement of the religion and making women clean. This practice has been sanctioned by the prophet. According to Islamic scholars, the prophet asked Ummu Attiya to do the practice but with moderation. I defend and support FGM as far as it is according to the way the prophet recommended. However, I do not support the kind of FGM that leads to adverse health implications or lasting injury to girls.” FGM is defined by the WHO as “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”. It is recognised as a violation of the human rights of women and girls. In December 2012, the United Nations general assembly unanimously voted to work for the elimination of FGM throughout the world. Between 100 million and 140 million women and girls are thought to be living with the consequences of female genital mutilation, according to the World Health Organisation.

PAGEANT'S COMMENT: The custom of female circumcision (female genital mutilation - FGM) is deeply embedded in Gambian culture. However, FGM is a criminal offence in the UK, and we know that it is an emotive topic which many of our readers may find upsetting. Sainey is a respected Gambian journalist. He reports on Gambian events as dispassionately as possible, and we have invited him to use Pageant's News Blog when his reports touch on matters that are of interest to our members. Pageant cannot approve of or condone FGM, but we do not wish to get involved in arguments for or against. Neither do we express any views about politics or religion. Pageant's overriding aim is simply to help with education in The Gambia, confident that a well-educated nation can make its own decisions about this and many other matters.
Several members and sponsors have asked us questions about FGM and what is happening about it in The Gambia.  Those and other concerned people could use the link below to read about the current situation out there.

Further information about FGM in The Gambia

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