Community Radio Reaches 300,000 People to Educate on the Risks of FGM

An interactive radio discussion highlighted the different perspectives on FGM within the community.

The talk show at Kewewan Community Radio FM was conducted at night at peak listening hour on the 22nd of July and 19th of August. Together, the broadcasts reached thousands of people in the rural communities in the Lower Badibou District and in the upper Badibou District, North Bank Region of the Gambia.

A leading midwife from a local Health Centre was invited to explain how FGM adversely affects labour, which causes significantly greater risks of complications during childbirth such as severe pain and haemorrhage. They also discussed the need to separate culture from religion in relation to health.

The team also invited a former community FGM practitioner, who explained the risks of FGM in causing disease. She described how her lack of education made her unaware of how harmful the practice is, but she has since received further training and actively supports the campaign to end FGM.

A female district Youth Chairperson and district Red Cross Coordinator described the different perspectives on FGM in the wider community. The Red Cross coordinator explained that as she is not from a religious family that practises FGM, it is easier for her to understand FGM as a cultural, rather than a religious practice.

A Child Welfare Officer from the Police was invited to discuss the laws on FGM in the Gambia. Under the current law in the Gambia, a person convicted of performing FGM faces up to three years in prison, a fine of 50,000 dalasi (£622), or both. They encourage people to report any cases of FGM directly to the police. The lines were then opened for calls from the public; Some callers argued in defence of FGM, but others understood the harms of the practice and supported the cause to end it.

During the interactive programme, it became clear that doubt surrounding the necessity of FGM still exists. The sensitivity of the topic requires time for people to understand and change their minds, which is why future campaigns are necessary.