By Neneh Galley Barry
Honorable Minister for health and social welfare, Dr. Isatou Touray said according to WHO about 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM. She said in Africa an estimated 101 million girls, of 10 years old and above have undergone FGM.
She made this statement at the 3rd international forum on Female Genital Mutilation/ Cutting: exploring strategies and good practices, from local to global evidence held at Cora beach hotel in Brufut yesterday.
“I am aware of health implementations of this practice on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls which she said include severe bleeding and infections, infertility as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of new born deaths.” She explains.
According to her, female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices such as early marriage, nutritional taboos, continue to affect maternal and child health efforts in the Gambia.
She said study have shown that women who have had FGM are significantly more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result of the practice. Minister Touray said this why the practice is a serious concern for government, adding that they are partnering with UNFPA, WHO, UNICEF and all other partners such as CSOs, NGOs, educational institutions to engage communities to abandon the practice.
She finally said that the government will continues to uphold the wellbeing of women and children at the top of its development agenda.
Attila Lajos, EU Ambassador in the Gambia has said that FGM/C has been a criminal offence in the Gambia since 2015, but it will take more than a change in law to eliminate this harmful practice.
He said the overall prevalence of FGM/C lacks up to date, reliable date, but is estimated at 76.3 percent, meaning that it affects approximately 3 out of 4 girls and women.
Also speaking at the forum, Prof. Adriana Kaplan Chairperson has said that the aim of this forum is to honor the date by sharing experiences and knowledge among people from Africa and Europe.
She concluded by saying that FGM/C has negative social impact because it contravenes legal, medical and cultural values. She added that in European, the practice presents profound professional dilemmas, stigmatizes women and girls who have suffered the practice and helps to re-enforce prejudices and stereotypes.
By Neneh Galley Barry