YAXARUN TI Women's Programme. Every Tuesday / Chaque Mardi
TO HELL WITH THE FEMINIST PROPAGANDA. Real Women Empowerment starts with the recognition, promotion and defence of authentic femininity. Dear Women of African Descent, be proud of your God-given beauty, natural hair, skin colour and personalities before you can claim your rights to be equally corrupt, lazy, dictatorial, nepotic and useless like some of the chauvinists you are fighting. KEEP WEARING THE TRADITIONAL AFRICAN "TIKKA" HEADGEAR. That is if you cannot at least celebrate your natural hair. I wish you a Very Angry Women's Day... PRINCE BUBACARR AMINATA SANKANU, Bad Boy and Casanova. Click on: www.ntixannen.com
MEMORIES OF THE BLADE
By Oumie Sissokho
It is indeed with utmost displeasure for almost every victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to remember the feelings of pain, anxiety, sadness, anger and distrust associated with a brutal act perpetrated against one in the name of a custom. Also, the non-existent promises the practice usually
comes with or justified with could be heartbreaking. One thing I am certain and do not compromise with is the fact that the blade has lifelong consequences on its victims. Despite this, some of our grandmothers, mothers, aunties, guardians and custodians of culture want us to remain silent.
We are aught that silence about a pain endured reflects the chastity and cultured-ness of a woman. I disagree.
Yes I do; and with all my strength. The silence only keeps this degrading and abusive practice ongoing, victimizing and undermining the bodily integrity of millions of girls and women.
FGM is said to be increasingly becoming a global phenomenon although it is more widespread in Africa. It is also prevalent in South Asia and parts of the Arab world. According to some historians and increasingly feminist theologians and organizations, FGM has spanned centuries prior to the coming of Islam (and perhaps has predated Christianity too) yet, the practice is widely associated to the religion. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 125 million women and girls are living with the consequences of FGM today. Three million girls are at risk of undergoing FGM annually (8000 daily) and majority of the practice happens in the 29 countries of Africa where it is most widespread.This statistics is both terrifying and insulting. Terrifying, in the sense that societies put the lives of millions of women and girls at risk of a lifelong pain and exploitation without any reasonable purpose. In simpler terms, it means that millions of women have undergone the horrendous act without any tangible benefit but for the mere satisfaction of expected social norms. It is insulting in the sense that the commoditization of women’s body for the satisfaction of a patriarchal establishment is nothing but a slur to womanhood!
Increasingly, there are emerging conflicting reasons why people practice FGM. The most cited controversy is around the religious justification of the practice. While most religious interpreters, scholars and custodians are predominantly men, it is not coincidental that some of them use Islam to justify the perpetuation of FGM. However, this stance is controversial in current literature on FGM as it is increasingly being revealed that Islam does not declare FGM as an obligation, neither does it treat its absence sinful. However, there are oppositions to this belief. According to one school, the prophet did not condemn the practice in one of his encounters with a circumciser but he only admonishes for a moderate conduct. This claim, however, says the Muslim Women’s league, does not qualify as a strong hadith, neither should it be treated as a consent.
On the other hand, there have been other claims about the indirect mention of FGM in the Quran. Despite this claim, I remain unconvinced of the interpretation that God is supportive of the issue. From Al-Baqarah to An-Nas, my understanding of the Quran, no matter how little, fails to convince me that FGM has been declared as a strategy that purifies women, increase their faith, cleans and purify them.Moving to other factors, the satisfaction of societal and traditional norms, values and expectations rank high on the factor list that supports FGM. The WHO reports that social conformity is a strong force that supports the continuity of FGM. In societies where FGM exist, girls are increasingly vulnerable to undergo it to satisfy the established values that define how ‘appropriate’ they must be raised. These ‘appropriate’ expectations are believed to be decreased sexual urge and abstinence of younger or unmarried girls from intercourse. It is also believed to increase faithfulness as virtuous women for proper commitment into marital relations.Furthermore, ‘modesty; and ‘feminity’ are part of the culturally established reasons that still exist. This grave misconception that the clitoris is ‘unclean’ and ‘manly’ encourage the perpetration of this violence against girls and women. While the clitoris is an integral part of the woman’s sexual and reproductive satisfaction and health, its removal is not only unfair but signifies how women are reduced into desirable objects that satisfy the preferential taste of others. The reasons put forward by proponents who could include circumcisers, community leaders, religious figures and even some political leaders are almost endless but also fail to convince me!
One thing though is certain, is the fact that there are no medical benefits FGM brings along. Instead, the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and many other NGOs, researchers and medical practitioners have revealed the lifelong consequences the practice is related with. It has both short and long term health effects thus threatening the attainment of the highest standard of health. From shock, severe bleeding, possible transmission of infections to the possible loss of life are the true impacts of FGM. In addition,the physical and psychological effects could be traumatic for an entire lifetime. The destruction of the genitalia and obstruction of the proper function of reproductive organs put girls and women at risk of complications related with pain and risk of challenges at child birth. The consequences, to be honest, are non-exhaustible in this paper.
FGM reflects the “underlying gender structure and power relations” that ultimately affect women disproportionately in our world, the UNFPA reiterates. This also sustains discrimination and inequality that most of its victims live through for almost all their lives. It must be added that the cruelty and pain of such a practice disqualifies every girl child and woman to undergo the process. It is never too late to act together. The time is now to turn our tragedies into strategies to educate all we could reach about the complications FGM come with. Our tears must turn into strength to stand, talk (shout out!), mobilize, lobby, advocate and demand that women and girls are protected from all form of abuse, torture and exploitation in the name of culture. Instead of a rite of passage, we demand for a passage of laws to protect our rights everywhere. What we need is intellectual empowerment instead of physical and emotional measures to control how we feel, what we do and how we live our lives. We need memories of laughter and joy instead of the memories of sorrows and fears of blades piercing through our genitalia!
Binta Sidibeh is New Executive Director of Women's Bureau
21 January 2014
Madame Binta Jammeh Sidibeh is the New Executive Director of The Gambia Women's Bureau, NTI XANNEN reports
Executive Director of the Association for the Promotion of Girls' and Women's Advancement in the Gambia (APGWA) /Sobeya Skills Center along the Tallinding Highway in the Kanifing Municipalitiy of The Gambia.
She is a gender activist and a women’s rights activist who co-ordinates women’s groups across 90 villages to advance their economic empowerment, health and reproductive rights and their political and religious rights. Having studied in the United States in the mid 70’s
Ms. Jammeh-Sidibe has been championing the cause of women throughout Africa, Europe and the United States. She operates Skills Training Centres to train young disadvantaged women on livelihood skills. In 1998 she received an International Award from Amnesty International in Germany, in Commemoration of the 50 years Anniversary of the UNDHR for her work on Human Rights. She is a member of many national and international networks and the mother of five children.
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Gamcotrap concerned about anti-FGM rhetoric
By Kebba Jeffang,
The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices, known by its acronym Gamcotrap has raised concern about the recent anti-FGM rhetoric saying, “For those of you in The Gambia who have been following the recent radio developments, an anti-government policy rhetoric regarding FGM was being propagated against anti-FGM advocates using Islam to justify the practice.”...
Dr Isatou Touray, the head of the women's rights group, told religious leaders from The Gambia, Guinea and Mauritania at a two-day regional forum aimed at engaging religious scholars towards ending FGM in The Gambia as well as outlawing the practice with a proposed law on FGM in The Gambia. The two-day event was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
“They have also thrown defamatory statements at the work we do to support government's commitment and policy to end FGM in The Gambia. This sends the wrong signals to those who are yet to be empowered to drop the knife to continue cutting their children in the name of Islam,” she said while urging scholars to gain required information to protect their children from this harmful practice.
According to the Gamcotrap chief, the aim of the regional dialogue is put an end to misconception about Islam and FGM and form a correct perceptive on FGM and Islam. The interface with scholars from Guinea, Mauritania and The Gambia aimed to exhaust the various religious arguments while shedding light upon common misconceptions, the prominent women's rights activist told the delegates.
The meeting was told about the effects of FGM on women and children's sexual and reproductive health rights and also strategies employed by other Muslim majority countries that have legislated against FGM.
“We must create dialogue that will disassociate FGM from Islam. We are here today because of the popular demand of the policy in addressing the misconceptions on the relationship between FGM and Islam and put the protracted debate on this subject matter to an end in an attempt to facilitate legislation against its practice,” Dr Touray noted.
She announced that more significant gains have been registered in the last ten years with a series of abandonment by circumcisers in various parts of the country. According to her, since 2007 about 128 circumcisers and 900 communities have abandoned the knife to protect their girls. “As we gained more resources and engage with various regions, this positive trend will continue to grow,” she said.
Dr Touray further elucidated that the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in 2009 declared that he is not in support of the practice of FGM and advised those engaging in it to stop the practice adding: “In 2010, the National Assembly pledged to pass into law any bill that bans FGM after attending a workshop organized by Gamcotrap.
She said Gamcotrap has taken the initiatives of coming up with a proposed law that seeks to outlaw FGM saying: “We hope the government will not reject it, in the interest of our suffering women and girls- children. It is one of the reasons why this dialogue is important, to clear the religious misconception that used as justification to continue the practice.
Also speaking at the dialogue was Fatou Kinteh, a representative from UNDP who said FGM is a human rights violation adding FGM is a gender-based violence that needs to be ended in all its forms, if we are to sustained economic growth and development. Gamcotrap and UNDP for the past years have campaign for the abandonment of FGM, she said adding: “Gamcotrap and UNDP continue to receive request from communities for abandonment of FGM/C in their communities. This workshop will serve as learning and sharing experiences that will also help in protecting the rights and wellbeing of the girls and women.”
The UN diplomat said women and girls should not suffer from the consequences of FGM. The governor of West Coast Region, Lamin Sanneh, said women and children's rights issues are human rights issues, saying that he is aware of the crusade against the FGM.
Others speakers include Mrs Nasaha Kofoworola, director of Save the Children West and Central Central whose NGO funded the dialogue thanks Gamcotrap for championing the course of women and children, urging them to keep up the good work in order to eradicate the practice of FGM.