Wluml dossier 3 June/July 1988 Sexual Mutilations

Female circumcision in the Gambia

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Female circumcision in the Gambia
Aouzu Billahi Minash Shaitani Rajemm.

Bismillahi Rahmani-r-Racheem
My name is Mrs. Fatoumata Tambajang and I am from the Gambia, small country with a population of 696,886 of which 80% live in health hazardous rural areas and 70% of these are circumcised women and girls.
Madame chairperson, fellow participants on this note I wish to state that it is indeed a great pleasure and honour to be in your midst through the good will of the Babiker Badri Scientific association for Women's Studies in the Sudan. I am hereby representing the National Committee of Traditional Practices affecting the Health of Women and Children in the Gambia, in the capacity of secretary. Mrs. Safiatou Singhateh who was our original representative to the Workshop is unable to attend due to other pressing official engagements. However, she has asked me to convey to the BBSAWS and the hospitable loving brothers and sisters of the Sudan with whom some of our ethnic groups at home share historical relationship, her personal gratitude for inviting us to the Workshop.
She also wishes us a successful deliberation in the Workshop. If we all recall, the deliberations during Dakar UNFPA funded workshop on "Traiditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children in Africa" left us without any doubt as to that there was direct relationship between a mother and child. The significant problem of female circumcision turns out to one of the major urgent and cruel clitoridictonuria practices in The Gambia needing our attention and combined efforts. In the first instance, physical plain is inflicted upon a girl as well as life threatening consequences such as serious bleeding and infections leading to anaemia and tetanus respectively. The letter in most obvious cases emanate from the dirty and non-sterilized environment in which the operations are performed, as well as the knife or razor blade with which it is performed.
It is worth noting that the psychological complex of the need to comprehend natural delivery and affectionate parenthood is unique. Besides, there can be psychological changes to a circumcised mother's natural reaction to sex. This may not be realised directly, but we should be ready to argue that the body's sex hormone composition is partially modified by the "sensitive organ" (clitoris).
As regard the child, it can be acknowledged that the injury to a child at delivery appears to be mainly due to the restriction of the mother's birth canal. This mostly ends up being a traumatic injury to both mother and child. Hence there is a suspected high morbidity and infant mortality rate in the Gambia as well as in other African countries where female circumcision is practiced. I am, at this juncture, glad to report to my fellow participant that the Gambia Women's Bureau has now, in light of the above, established a National Committee with a view to research, analyse and design strategies for the eradication of female circumcision through a policy document to be proposed to our government. We shall communicate the outcome of this major undertaking as soon

as possible.

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