On Sunday, July 26, 51 villages joined together under the hot sun in Kamboua, a village of about 900 inhabitants in the region of Kolda, southern Senegal, to celebrate their pledge to abandon the age-old tradition of female genital cutting (FGC) and child/forced marriage. Ten of these villages began the Tostan Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in November 2008. The other 39 villages learned about human rights, health and hygiene, the risks of FGC and child/forced marriages, and child pregnancies through various radio programs. Earlier this year, the villages met and made the historic decision to abandon FGC and child/forced marriages, and organized a public declaration in Kamboua to celebrate. Overall, the declaration was warm and relaxed, but enthusiasm and excitement filled the air. Community leaders gave many moving speeches, which were infused with rhythmic drumming, and featured songs denouncing human rights violations and praising the joint efforts of Tostan and UNICEF. An ex-cutter, Madame Tacko Baldé, expressed in just a few words a great change that has taken place in Kamboua and surrounding villages during the awareness-raising campaigns and during the Tostan CEP. “What has been taught, I have learned. What has been shown, I have seen. It is all done for the best of our women’s health. We have abandoned FGC totally.”
Two of the participating villages had already declared their abandonment of the practices in March 2008, but decided to participate in a declaration for the second time, reaffirming their commitment to human rights and health. “The work is not over after a public declaration; it is merely a starting point for a continuous process of awareness-raising and discussion over the issues of human rights, health and hygiene, and long-lasting development in the communities.”
Many local authorities were present, including the prefect of Kolda, sub-prefect of Dioulacolon, mayors of Kolda, Salikegne, and Saré Yoba Diéga, the chief doctor of Kolda’s sanitary district, village chiefs of Kamboua and Kountima, religious leaders, and eleven journalists from the Senegalese media. Representatives of UNICEF Ziguinchor and World Vision were also present.
Madame Diewo Diao, a woman born in Kamboua but currently living in Dakar, said she was delighted at the declaration taking place in her home village. She promised to share the declaration with the Fulani community living in Dakar to spread the message to communities far beyond the borders of Kolda. In their declaration speech the communities announced, “We, the representatives of 50 villages of Fulani major ethnicity, rural community of Giro Yéro Bocar and region of Kolda, make our solemn engagement with a great knowledge of the subject in matter, to abandon the practicing of FGC and child/forced marriages on the daughters of our communities.”
To read more about the declaration in Kamboua, please click on the following link: Article from Agence de Presse Senegalaise:
” Des communautés de 50 villages renoncent à la pratique de l’excision “
For more information about the practice of FGC, please visit Tostan’s FGC resource page.
To learn more about the theory behind organized diffusion, please click here to read Gerry Mackie’s article entitled “Female Genital Cutting: The Beginning of the End.”