As part of Women’s History Month, SiA Magazine took our Imitated-Not-Mutilated campaign to grassroots women in Brikama, The Gambia and Kono, Sierra Leone. In The Gambia, leaders of women's kafos welcomed me back to Brikama after nearly fifteen years since I left to complete my doctoral thesis in London. We discussed so many issues – top of the list was the departure of former President Yayah Jammeh and how relieved they felt to be able to speak freely and begin to enjoy “democracy”. On the topic of Jammehs’ Executive Order banning so-called FGM in The Gambia, the women said they had been too afraid to openly challenge the edict.
But prior to all the rejoicing, one of the ngamanos (traditional exicers) was initially fearful that my group came as spies of the Government to document who in the area was violating the FGM ban. She had insisted to us that she used to perform the surgery but that she had completely stopped after Jammeh’s decree. After several other women interjected and explained my background and mission to empower women to exercise their rights to self-determination, the ngamano seemed more at ease and started to talk about the impact of anti-FGM campaigns in driving female circumcision underground.
The women expressed thanks, prayed for me and asked me to stay and travel around the country with SiA Magazine’s awareness campaign. All of them were excited to come on board the fight for our global rights - as women - to equality, self-determination, our religion, our cultural beliefs, bodily practices and our human dignity.
Founder, All Women are Free to Choose