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One Billion Rising In the Gambia PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Friday, 12 February 2016 14:32

10th February 2016


One Billion Rising In the Gambia


The Gambia joins the One Billion Rising Revolution for justice to end gender based violence TO ENLARGE, TO DEEPEN, TO EXPAND And TO REVOLUTIONISE the structures that perpetuate all forms of violence against women. One Billion Rising is a global movement, founded by Eve Ensler, to end rape and other forms of sexual violence against women.


In 2012, UN statistic revealed that one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime, that equates to One Billion women of the world’s population thus the V-Day initiative of the One Billion Rising Movement. Since then the figures have not changed significantly, thus the One Billion Rising Revolution call for change is growing to dismantle the structures that nurture any form of violence against women and girls. Major changes are still needed particularly in ways of thinking and consciousness about violence against women issues. “REVOLUTION” is a major thing we need, and it allows creative and artistic expressions, multi-sectoral involvement and more importantly- provides a unique space to engage people from all walks of life. It allows the use of imagination, art and political actions, allows everyone the freedom to localize all their campaigns and struggles to end violence against women.


In the Gambia, GAMCOTRAP will Listen! Act! Rise for Justice with activists from all walks of life, including communities, young people, artists, journalists, grassroots activists, politicians and human rights activists to amplify the voices of the unheard and vulnerable. According to the OBR West Africa Coordinator, Dr. Isatou Touray “It is time for women to engage and revolutionize all the structures that perpetuate all forms of violence against women and girls.”. We will rise to see that justice is the guiding principle in the daily affairs of our people and change the perceptions, attitude and practices that promote and perpetuate violence against women and girls.


Local artists extending from traditional Communicators to rap groups from rural and urban Gambia will be part of the celebration at the Buffer Zone in the Kanifing Municipality on 14th February 2016. A group of Young people, men and women from Sinjang community in the Casamance Region of Senegal will join the Gambia Rising and it is expected that many more will join the rising for justice revolution.


At the global level, Eve Ensler, Founder of One Billion Rising who has penned a new monologue that activists worldwide will perform entitled “Rise, Dance, Disrupt” stated “We are evolving our fight against violence against women, knowing that unless we put the marginalized at the lead, unless we address imperialism, war, climate change, racism, economic inequality, workers rights and patriarchy we will never end violence against women and girls. Let’s go further than we have ever gone, igniting revolution and paradigm change.


Expanding on the 2016 Rising Revolution, Monique Wilson, Global One Billion Rising Director asserted “We’ve danced, we’ve demanded justice, we’ve demanded changes. This year we are radicalising our actions — enlarging, deepening and expanding the revolution. Let’s continue to shift consciousness and be braver, bolder, more creative and determined with our actions. Communities will focus on the most marginalised women and girls to bring about true, long lasting change.”


It could be recalled that since 2013, GAMCOTRAP has been leading the One Billing rising in the Gambia, both in rural and urban areas, rising together with organizations and institutions to promote women’s rights in the Gambia.


ONE BILLION RISING: REVOLUTION is an energy, a platform, a global movement, a catalyst, a worldwide decision to end violence against women, a demand for justice, a paradigm shift, an invitation, a gathering of the ready, housed everywhere, housed in our hearts, you, us, REVOLUTION.


Prepared by GAMCOTRAP






Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:50
International Zero Tolerance To FGM Day, 6th February 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Friday, 05 February 2016 10:41



International Zero Tolerance To FGM Day, 6th February 2016


February 6th is an important day in the advocacy to end Female Genital Mutilation globally but in Africa in particular. It is an event calling the attention of the whole world with the aim to end violence against women and girl –children. The theme this for 2016 is “Together, mobilizing to contribute to the achievement of the new Global Goals through the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2030.


In the Gambia, years of working together with grassroots communities has proven that we can achieve the goal of protecting girls from FGM and ensure that the environment is safe for girls to reach their full potential with their bodily integrity in tack. Reaching out to 1015 Communities in rural areas of the Gambia, 158 Circumcisers making public declaration through the Dropping of the Knife celebration is worth celebration. Such achievement has been taken to higher heights with a Specific law criminalizing and prohibiting FGM in the Gambia.


As the Gambia joins the world to celebrate Zero Tolerance day to end FGM, GAMCOTRAP, financed by the Italian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Civil Society partners, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Inter African Committee on Traditional Practices (IAC) take pride in bringing together delegates from the seven regions of rural Gambia to celebrate the achievement on a consultation to be conducted at the Independent Stadium in Bakau. Indeed rural people deserve to celebrate the day having been empowered with knowledge, information and skills to end the practice. They were there when the road was rough and tough. They realized that FGM is not a religious issue but a cultural practice and that culture is not static, together community members, Chiefs, village heads, women leaders, circumcisers, women and men, young and old came to consensus that girls need to be protected from FGM through enlightenment but also with a law to create a safe environment for them.


GAMCOTRAP is proud as a leading organization in the campaign to end FGM in the Gambia will partner with the Women’s Bureau with the support of the UNFPA Joint Programme to celebrate 2016 as a victory for the rural communities who have taken bold steps to make their voices heard loud and clear that indeed they can make informed decisions and all the genuine actors in the campaign to end FGM. It is the duty of the state to provide a safe environment for girls and women to be protected from all forms of violence including FGM and early and forced marriages. Through awareness, building capacity and solidarity Ex-Circumcisers have created a National Network with members from all the regions that have dropped the Knife working closely with their communities to protect girls, thus the need to celebrate.


As we celebrate the Zero Tolerance Day, GAMCOTRAP commends the state for taking its responsibility to enact a law that criminalizes and prohibits FGM in the Gambia. Special appreciation goes to the President of the Republic who after 21 years of research into this deadly practice made a pronouncement to ban FGM. This is a great achievement in fulfilling the Gambia’s international and regional obligation towards women and girl children. This is just the beginning, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the state and Civil Society Organizations take responsibility to educate the public about the content of the law and build the capacity of the relevant institutions to enforce the law in the best interest of the innocent girls. To achieve this we call on all to work together in mobilizing our people so that together we can achieve our goal. In this light GAMCOTRAP will on Zero Tolerance Day celebrate the event to activate and strengthen awareness-raising and advocacy activities, to spread information on the universal ban on FGM and its implications at the community and national levels as well as about the new legislation in order to contribute towards its effective application.


It could be recalled that on 23rd November 2015, His Excellency President Jammeh of the Republic of The Gambia issued a Presidential Proclamation banning female genital mutilation (FGM). Following this, on 28th December 2015, the National Assembly adopted the “Women’s Act Amendment Bill on FGM”. This is a historic moment in the decades-long fight against FGM in Gambia: now government representatives, parliamentarians, local authorities, women’s rights organizations, non–governmental organizations and other members of civil society are coming together to ensure the successful implementation of the law.


The UN System and International organizations should work closely with all the actors to popularize the Law and support their initiatives to further empower communities about the law.


We believe that FGM will be a fairy tale by the end of 2017. The new direction of engagement is to intensify the advocacy to address other forms of violence against women and girls in line with the sustainable development goals.


FGM is one of the most violent acts that is performed on girls and women, and since 1984, the advocacy to eliminate FGM in the Gambia has been progressing phenomenally. Circumcisers and their communities have been abandoning the practice and protecting their girl-children. The level of awareness is at its peak and the communities are aware of the effects of FGM on the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girl-children.


We take this opportunity to thank all the communities who took leadership to protect their children from FGM. We thank the UN System, the International Community and all donor partners for all the investments made to promote women and children’s rights; and to the Government of the Gambia for fulfilling its international and regional commitments by legislating against FGM.


We wish all stakeholders successful event.


Prepared by GAMCOTRAP


Last Updated on Friday, 04 March 2016 18:15
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 14:48








By Dr. Isatou Touray

Executive Director



28th DECEMBER 2015


Fellow Gambians today marks an important day for the Gambia Feminist Movement in their effort to end female genital mutilation over a period of thirty years of grassroots activism and social mobilization in various regions of the Gambia.  It has been a very cumbersome and hard won effort to arrive on a day like today in the history of the Gambia Women’s Rights movement. GAMCOTRAP is extremely happy that a struggle which landed two of the senior management staff in prison has yielded fruits. Going to prison was worth it for the sake of the innocent children who were never informed of what was going to happen to them. It was worth going through the ordeals.  GAMCOTRAP appreciates the good gesture from His Excellency, President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh Babili Mansa for making a pronouncement to call for a ban on FGM and a bill to effectively ban it. Therefore I would categorically say that this bill was sponsored by His Excellency. Your Excellency, I congratulate you for taking this bold step and thank you on behalf of all the girl-children of the Gambia for promoting their sexual and reproductive health rights, their bodily dignity and integrity.

The passage of this bill makes the Gambia the 27th Country in sub-saharan African to legislate against FGM. Congratulation to the Gambia and congratulation to the women and men of the Gambia!!.

Although belated, this day is very important for all the children of the Gambia. It therefore implies that Gambian children as well as all children from different countries living in the Gambia will henceforth be protected from female genital mutilation.

The passage of a bill would create an enabling and conducive environment for further necessary sensitization of the remaining communities to abandon FGM. GAMCOTRAP will continue its efforts in this direction.

GAMCOTRAP wishes to recognise the 1015 communities, their chiefs and Alkalolu (Village heads), the 158 ngansingbalu (ex-circumcisers), the Community Based Facilitators (CBFs), and GAMCOTRAP Regional Coordinators with the support of the Governors of those region, who did not wait for this pronouncement and the bill but made an informed choice to abandon the practice. Behind GAMCOTRAP are the dedicated group of Board Members and Chairpersons who facilitated the work of GAMCOTRAP resulting to this success. We acknowledge their immense contributions.

We would like to appreciate the great efforts made by The UNFPA and the UNFPA/UNICEF Joint Programme and Trust Fund and the Women’s Bureau, for supporting the advocacy work for Accelerated Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia. This project is aimed at the attainment of article 5 of the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as the MAPUTO Protocol. The Gambia is a signatory to these key articles which served as a tool in addressing gender inequality, reproductive rights and empowerment of women and adolescent girls, so as to promote an enabling socio-cultural environment that is conducive for the elimination of harmful practices.

The issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the Gambia has evoked a lot of sensitivities from numerous quarters resulting to strong patriarchal resistance. Consequently, the fight against FGM and other Harmful Traditional Practices in the country has been difficult, challenging and protracted. Despite such daunting challenges, the gender specific nature of FGM motivated women’s rights organizations in the country to take it as a relevant and necessary development agenda and proceeded to develop and implement programmes on it. Some of these organizations have been operational in the country for a long time while some are relatively new. GAMCOTRAP salutes all of them for promoting the rights of the girl-child.

Apart from the UN Agencies appreciation goes to a number of International NGOs and donors who have provided sustained financial and technical support to GAMCOTRAP to continue the advocacy at grassroots level when it was taboo to talk about it. These are the Inter-African Committee (IAC), Save the Children, NORAD, NPWJ, Feminist Review Trust, Equality Now, V-Day, One Billion Rising, The Pond Foundation, Yolocamba Solidaridad, Global Fund for Women, ODAM ONGD, AWDF, WLUML, MUSAWAH, Musukangbeng Kafoo –Norway, Un-Women Trust Fund and many individuals, organizations and institutions abroad who were motivated by the work we did.

To the media fraternity nationally and internationally for amplifying the advocacy work being done throughout the Gambia for informing, educating and communicating to the population we say well done. GAMCOTRAP would also like to appreciate the sustained efforts of the print media, community radios and individual journalists who followed our Campaign trails as we move from one community to another. Ms. Sue Lloyd Roberts of the BBC and Alice Mcdowell of the Ideas Project covered our work on FGM and made objective reporting from different angles. Together their contributions brought the activities of GAMCOTRAP and the issue of FGM to the attention of the whole world.


We Praise Allah the Almighty for making this day possible during our life time.


Let the world celebrate the Gambia!!





Last Updated on Friday, 04 March 2016 18:16
DOK Averts Sheroines Against FGM PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 13:30





5th Dropping of the Knife Celebration!

GAMCOTRAP invites you to the biggest event of the movement of ex- Circumcisers empowered to end FGM and other Harmful Traditional Practices in the Gambia with a display of positive and beautiful Gambian cultures.

Join 30 Sheroines against FGM at the 5th Dropping of the Knife Celebration, a public declaration supported by 115 communities from the three Niamina Districts of The Gambia as they take an Oath to end FGM in their communities.  They are supported by their Community leaders, Village heads, Women leaders, men, women, and youths.

Date: Nov 25th 2015

Region: Central River Region: South

Venue: Jareng

Time: 9am


Come and See what change looks like when traditional leaders and communities reach consensus to protect girls from Female Genital Mutilation



Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 18:48
Symposium on Human Rights Day 10th December 2015, PDF Print E-mail
Written by GAMCOTRAP   
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 13:05

Symposium on Human Rights Day 10th December 2015,
organized by GAMCOTRAP and funded by AWDF, at Kanifing Hall on Jimpex Road

GAMCOTRAP supported by African Women’s Development Fund –AWDF joined the world in celebratingHuman Rights Day which also marks the end of 16 Days of Activism.  The celebration took the form of a symposium which provided panelists human rights activists the opportunity to reflect on the theme:

“The Ban on FGM:

Perspectives and Impressions on the Pronouncement within the context of the world wide theme :

From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.”

(Left)  Panelists at Symposium on Human Rights Day and
(Right) Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP, Dr. Isatou Touray

Speaking at the symposium, the Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP said the day is important to reflect as Human Rights Defenders who are engaging to promote  human rights issues. She appreciated the pronouncement to ban FGM in the Gambia and called on the relevant authorities to take advantage of it to have legislation.  During her interventions, Dr. Touray noted that the basic principles of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child –CRC are violated by FGM and children who have no decision making powers in what happens to them during circumcision should have been protected a long time ago. This is why GAMCOTRAP was persistent in the advocacy to influence the hearts and minds of the population to protect their children.  She noted that it should not have taken twenty-one (21) years of research for the President to make a pronouncement. The reason being that the relevant institutions are available to guide the president with the right technical discourse to enable him make an informed choice.

However, she appreciated the fact that this pronouncement is towards the right direction and looks forward to a faster pace of legislation to protect the girl-child. She justified the need to engage because the law is for all to have access to justice, thus the need for people to know why the ban on FGM.  The GAMCOTRAP Director further noted that traditional practices are used to deny girls their right to education and cited the case of early marriage and other discriminatory practices that prevent girls from completing their educational pursuits to the highest level. Hence the need to call the state to accountability of its commitments to children and women.  She argued that knowledge can be used to abuse people like the case of FGM and religion or to empower them like winning the campaign to end FGM, and that education is key to stand against harmful traditional practices. She said there is cause to celebrate because abuse and violence should not be condoned and activists have been vindicated.   She finally noted that the ban on FGM is just the beginning not the end in protecting the children and called on people to belief in the power of knowledge to move the country in the right direction in their different endeavors.

Dr. Touray welcomed the panelists and participants to the symposium stating that it was a forum for academic Freedom and intellectual liberty and argued that if society cannot exercise the freedom of expression, it can lead to mediocrity and violence. Thus it was an opportunity to share ideas to effect change as Human Rights Activists.  She asserted that ideas for change can come from few but it is the majority who effect change.  It is Incumbent upon the privileged few and the masses to bring about change, as has occurred in the case of changing mindsets and practices about FGM.  She asserted that despite the delay in the pronouncement for 21 years, communities and families are protecting their girls as illustrated in the five Dropping of the Knife celebrations led by communities.
Reflecting on the current exodus amongst youths Dr. Touray said it is partly due to unemployment and lack of opportunities and continuous dependent on parents after completing their education.  She observed that there is need for strong institutions to ensure development is focused towards the right direction and open up job opportunities for the young people.  Young people need to be motivated to remain and engage constructively in the Gambia.

Cross-section of participants at symposium

Samboujang Manneh from Child Protection Unit of the Gambia Police Force reflecting on the theme of the symposium said the pronouncement to ban FGM came at a crucial time but have to be fought by all including government institutions and agents.   He argued FGM is an abuse of human rights of girls and women and girls and women have the right to freedom from torture. Mr. Manneh observed the importance of putting the pronouncement into law in place.  He advised that Religious leaders should be engaged by upholding the truth about FGM and to support the pronouncement that FGM is prohibited through their sermons and religious schools.  The Police Child Protection Officer called on all to reach out to girls to protect their daughters in the future.   Officer Manneh claimed it is time for total eradication of FGM and called for continued partnership to end FGM and protect the lives of young women.

Human Rights Defender Madi Jobarteh said many homes have been battle field due to FGM, young women died because of giving life due to suffering associated to FGM.  Young married couples are faced with  many associated problems and argued that the State has potential and capacity  to know that FGM is not in the Quran and not good for health of women and girls.  He held the opinion that there is progress and even without a pronouncement FGM will die out.  He observed the important role of the state who should take the responsibility to protect the lives of Gambians from FGM as stated in the Constitutional provision of Chapter 4, Sect 17.  Madi Jobarteh further asserted that the practice is used to control women, with gendered messages indoctrinated male dominance and lack self esteem amongst women.  He celebrated anti-FGM activists for being vocal and persistent in advancing women and children’s rights.   Mr. Jobarteh challenged that those against the campaign to end FGM cannot gather any evidence from the Holy Quran to justify their claim; and that the damage done to those who have been subjected to FGM cannot be undone.  He suggested that there is no ground to allow impunity to continue and there is need for accountability of the institutions that are supposed to advise the government.
Mrs. Ndey Secka- Sallah Visually Impaired Activist said women and girls with disability are faced with multiple disabilities by being subjected to FGM.   She shared testimonies of victims of FGM amongst people with disability which included the unfortunate story of a blind girl who was cut and sealed and had to face serious consequences which contributed to her death doubled with sexual abuse in her marital home.  Mrs. Secka-Sallah also highlighted that girls are not informed especially girls with hearing impairment or those visually impaired don’t know about what is being done to them.  Even with the ban, people are still thinking about FGM.  She concluded by sharing the excitement of hearing a ban on the practice.  “I screamed when I heard the ban, and felt that a law should immediately be in place to ban the practice.”

Lamin Manneh, also an activist with the Gambia Association of People with Disability – GAPD for the rights of People with disabilities appreciated the training he received from GAMCOTRAP in the 1990s, which opened his mind to further make investigations on FGM amongst persons with disability who he reiterated are more vulnerable, and gave testimonies to that effect. He emphasized that early marriage is still an issue and it affects the education of young girls.
Dr. Abubacarr Jah  joined the world celebrate the efforts to end Violence Against Women and made reference to the Worldwide ban on FGM since 1997, the WHO statement  in 2004, which has been reinforced in 2010 by making it illegal for nurses and Doctors to cut girls as well as the UN ban adopted in 2012.   He reiterated that there is need for law and continuous education for people to know why the ban to have a complete eradication of FGM.   Dr. Jah argued that Women will be more whole, and give birth in a less painful manner, will be more self confident, and will help in preserving marriages.  The Activist Doctor asserted that children in such families where mothers are healthier and there is peace in the home get more concentration on their education.

Sheikh Omar Fye of the Management Development Institute reminded the audience that this year marks the 24th year of 16 Days of Activism and the theme is apt.  He paid tribute to Gender Activists fighting to end FGM for their commitment for the success of others and their unique stand in the fight for the rights of women and girls.  He commended GAMCOTRAP and said it is a brand of seasoned calibre of activists who serve as role models for many in the Gambia.  They taught many who do not know about FGM.   He recalled that since the first Dropping of the Knife in 2007, there was hope for success and the need for follow up to sustain the gains.   Focusing on the theme, Mr. Fye argued that healthy individuals become more productive and that education leads to enlightenment.  He urged all to value the intellectuals, and asserted that peace is invaluable to make all happy in the home and the world.  He called for people to hail, respect and value them.  “Respect the rights of human beings, there is no room for maltreating the girl child and women.  We can’t have peace without peace of mind.”  Gender activist Fye also called for devolution of power to the girl child.  He commended “GAMCOTRAP for being decisive, resolute and vigilant and remain to be the hope of the people.”

Political and Gender activist Amie Sillah of Women for Democracy and Development – WODD said the day was important for activists to come together because they have been imprisoned, killed and abused.  Activists have been on the right side of history. Mrs. Sillah –Sarr said lessons derived from the pronouncement to ban FGM is that the public media should be opened to exchange of ideas and added her voice to the call for law to protect the girl-child.    She reminded the audience that The Gambia has already committed to CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol and said there is no need to reinvent the wheel because GAMCOTRAP has already produced a draft law and advised that the Women’s Bureau and Office of the Vice President responsible for Women’s Affairs to move forward with the document and take it to the National Assembly.  She observed that opponents to the anti FGM campaign used the media to call for scientific data, when it was provided they moved the goal post to claim that it was about exposing the bodies of women. Madam Sillah-Sarr concluded “I am a FGM survivor, a poor old woman became the witch. My mother could not protect me because there was no law. I am glad to have it in the curriculum for peace in the home.  It has nothing to do with religion but to control Female sexuality.  ‘KUYAGA SI TEIN BAG FEKA LAFA’ a Wollof saying literary means “after working hard one bears the fruit of your labor.”  The gender activist called for sensitization and education with survivors to give a face to the figures.  In her fervent appreciation to the work of GAMCOTRAP to end FGM in the Gambia, the political activist noted “ Your struggle for liberty and dignity was paramount and you went  through tribulations to ensure every Gambian parent and adult realize that FGM and Early Marriage should end,  and law makers should be inspired by the executive to legislate a law.”

The panel discussions were followed by contributions from participants from all works of life including human rights defenders, health officials and the Police.
There was a call that more needs to be done to protect the girl-child and observed that the idea of Human Rights is global and Gambia cannot be isolated.  CSOs should continue to engage and we can celebrate when there is legislation and children are protected. One participant noted,
When the campaign started I was in school.  Life is a process, thanks to GAMCOTRAP.  The pronouncement is one step in the process; it has to be followed by law.”  He advised that CSOs should not relent but to work on what needs to be in the law.

Another participant argued that enough has not being done to protect women and children and question how many cases reported on FGM and prosecuted to protect the girls, called for encouragement of the efforts and to hold people accountable for FGM because women are in marriage without sexual life and end up allowing polygamy to thrive because many are suffering in silence.

Other contributions focused on the need to prepare law enforcement agents on the law once it is legislated  and the Ministry of Health to take a more proactive role  to pay attention  to the needs of the victims, include FGM in its Health Education programmes at ante-natal clinics and on health programmes on in the media.

Prepared by GAMCOTRAP, 11th December 2015


Last Updated on Friday, 04 March 2016 19:58
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