It's past time for silence: Men and boys, too, must stand up against FGM

Joint Statement by UNFPA The Gambia Country Representative Ndeye Rose Sarr and UNICEF The Gambia Country Representative Gordon Jonathan Lewis on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

06 February 2023
Boy leans on his bicycle.
UNICEF/UN00338/Noorani

BANJUL, 6 February 2023 – “When the fundamental rights of women and girls are at risk, silence becomes complicity. When a girl is cut, we must be outraged and demand accountability. Female genital mutilation is rooted in gender inequalities, violates the rights of girls and women, and limits their opportunities in health and income.

“Despite the criminalization of FGM in The Gambia, the practice remains prevalent. About 50 of percent girls aged 0-14 years have undergone FGM, and one in every two women endorses the practice. But men and boys, too, have an important voice and influence on the practice.

“But we are confident that change is possible – in fact change is coming. Increasingly, more men and boys are standing up and challenging the gender norms that entrench the practice. They are leading change in their families, schools, communities, and workplaces. Furthermore, we see many male heads of state and senior government leaders taking a firm stand against this harmful practice.

“Meeting the global target of eliminating FGM by 2030 requires much more from us. The justice system must step up to thoroughly follow on cases of violations. The police must be more proactive in protecting girls and women. The children’s courts must be strengthened to adequately address issues affecting children, including violation of their rights. And politicians and policymakers must show willingness to enforce the ban on FGM.

“The UNFPA-UNICEF global Joint Programme on the Elimination of FGM continues to better position itself in The Gambia, working with diverse partners to end FGM in the country.

“This year, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM, we are calling for:

  • Stronger partnerships with men and boys to shift the gender and power imbalances and challenge the social norms that lead to and continue to entrench the practice of FGM.
  • Stricter enforcement of laws that criminalize FGM, including deliberate effort by law enforcement officers to identify and prosecute violations of the FGM law.
  • Investment in policies and programmes that seek to protect the rights of girls and women, including the development of a national action plan to end FGM and sustained support to civil society and community-based organizations.

“For The Gambia to end FGM by 2030, efforts must be scaled up at least 10-fold. Time is not on our side. The window is narrowing, and we must also close the funding gap.”

Media contacts

Monika Kacprzak
Communication Officer
UNICEF The Gambia
Tel: +220 3303087

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