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05 March 2015

Campaigners call for the end of FGM in The Gambia this International Women’s Day

Campaigners call for the end of FGM in The Gambia this International Women’s Day

The Gambia is known as 'the smiling coast of Africa', but behind the smiles many girls and women are living with the pain and suffering of female genital mutilation (FGM) as three in four girls are cut.

This week, which includes International Women's Day, Ann-Marie Wilson has been sharing her hope for an end to FGM in The Gambia.

Her organisation, 28 Too Many, working towards an end to FGM, have been increasing pressure to end the practice within The Gambia, but there is no national law against FGM and prevalence remains high.

A 28 Too Many report on FGM in The Gambia shows that the 2010 national prevalence for girls and women aged 15-49 years is 76.3 per cent. This is a two percentage point decrease from the 2005/6 figure. Extracts from the forthcoming report based on data from 2013 show a further drop to 74.9 per cent.

"This is encouraging and there are signs of hope for ending FGM in The Gambia. The research shows a growing momentum for change," states Dr Ann-Marie Wilson, executive director of 28 Too Many.

"Activists and organisations working to end FGM continue to press for a national law against FGM and a draft bill is being prepared. The Gambia has been a focus of recent media campaigns against FGM by The Girl Generation and The Guardian newspaper, led by high profile anti-FGM campaigners including Isatou Touray and Jaha Dukureh.

"We hope that 2015 will be a year of positive change for the girls and women of The Gambia and that this research will help those working to end the practice and support survivors living with the consequences of FGM."

The challenges to tackling FGM in The Gambia are many with the lack of national law against FGM needing to be urgently addressed.

Despite an increased awareness of the harm of FGM, in most ethnic groups there is above a 50 per cent support rate for continuing the practice. 

There is a strong link between FGM and religion in The Gambia and activists are encouraging faith leaders to be involved in the campaigning.