Ousman Jah, Aja Babung Sidibeh, Fatou Keita

By Halimatou Ceesay

A two-day consultation on Islam, Family Wellbeing and Traditional Practices held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, Kanifing has ended with stakeholders renewing calls for a complete halt of FGM in the Gambia and the sub-region.

Speaking at the event, renowned Islamic scholar and former vice president of the Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council, Ousman Jah said: “We should not circumcised girls based on pain, not exaggerate it or over amputate. If Prophet Muhammed (SAW) did not consider it as an obligation, then it is something you can chose to do or not do.

“The Prophet did not force his women to do it, order people to do it and there is no religious text from the Prophet that makes it obligatory. We only have some weak hadiths and even if it is legal, the Prophet did not encourage it. It will be better to abandon this practice.”

Representing the minister of Health, Fatou Camara, said FGM brings pain, sufferings and other health complications to women.

She added: “Women who have undergone do face a number of complications including difficulties in giving birth. We have to send them to surgery or tear them so that the baby can come out. Sometimes the baby dies before they are delivered due to tiredness and lack of air. These organs that are mutilated have their functions and we should leave it as it is”

Aja Babung Sidibeh, an ex-circumciser from the Central River Region, said: “You asked us to get ourselves, our daughters and granddaughters circumcised and preserved ourselves. We have done what you asked us to do, yet you leave us and marry uncircumcised women on the grounds that they are more enjoyable than us. Free us and tell us to hold onto one thing.”

She added: “After seeing how two children I circumcised were taken ill, I decided to drop the knife and I also called my people to abandon the practice. I have contributed to the pain and sufferings of all the women that I circumcised.”

Fatou Keita, a lady councilor, appealed to Gambian men to join forces with women and end FGM.