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The Declaration on Engaging Religious Leaders Towards Ending FGM: A Regional Dialogue

March 13, 2014

Banjul, The Gambia, 27th-28th February 2014

Recognizing after deliberating and reflecting on the situation of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in The Gambia through dialogue with religious leaders, from Senegal, La Guinea, Mauritania and the Gambia, with the participation of the Imams, Islamic Scholars, Chiefs, Women Leaders, Youth, relevant Institutions and civil society organizations that FGM is a gross violation of women’s human rights and the rights of the girl child;

Recognizing and confirming the fact that FGM is not a religious obligation in the Holy Koran nor is it mentioned or prescribed for girls and/or women in any authentic Ahadith;

Affirming that Islam respects and recognizes the rights, bodily dignity and integrity of women and calling for all religious leaders and other stakeholders to dissociate FGM from Islam;

Condemning the practice of FGM as a gross violation of women and girls’ rights to education, health, sexual and reproductive rights, their right to freedom from physical, mental, social, economic and sexual abuse and violence and making them more vulnerable to such abuse and violence and recognizing that FGM leads to medical complications, domestic violence and could contribute to the increase of HIV, AIDS and other STIs;

Realizing that the harmful impacts of FGM resulted in the physical, mental, social and economic abuse of women and girls and render them powerless and vulnerable to abuse;

Extremely concerned that the misconceptions on FGM results in the destruction of the very social fabric of human existence by negatively impacting on women  and undermining their bodily dignity and integrity;

Noting the various existing international and regional conventions, protocols, resolutions, declarations and instruments to protect women and the girl child from FGM and other harmful Traditional Practices;

Concerned that, despite these international obligations by states FGM still persists and continues to be perpetuated against women and girls with impunity due to misinterpretation of the Koran and resulting in the marginalization, discrimination and stigmatization of women from the same religious persuasion;

Alarmed that, some religious scholars continued to misinterpret the Koran and encourage women and men to perform FGM despite the proven health consequences and consequent violations of the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls in the regions; 

Recognized and concerned that, political leaders have justified their reservations to pass a specific law on FGM based on these religious misconceptions;

Deeply concerned and alarmed on the situation with regards to FGM and Islam:

We the Participants of the Regional Dialogue are convinced in the light of the above that we must come to a consensus on the following Actions;

We solemnly proclaim that all our Governments/States

Must ensure the effective implementation of all, relevant international and regional instruments and harmonizing same in our local laws by legislating against FGM by 2015.

Must recognize the dignity of women and girls as equal human being/persons as men diversely across the Continent.

Must note that Islam across the region in diverse countries does not promote FGM and to take a stand against religious scholars undermining state policies promoting women and girls rights by preventing and punishing perpetrators and those who incite and encourage them to carry out such acts and protect victims from FGM.

To Women

Welcoming and calling all women to support and engage in the advocacy to end FGM in order to protect innocent children and to empower women to defend their rights

Other Actors

Calling on Women’s Rights Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, and other relevant institutions and individuals to engage in effective advocacy and lobbying to advance the protection of the girl-child from FGM

Appealing to various institutions to support the proposed specific bill prohibiting FGM

We urge The Gambian nation to love, cherish, honour and treat with dignity the girl-child, who has no choice or opportunity to object to FGM

Subscribed to by the Participants from the workshop on Engaging Religious Leaders Towards Ending FGM: A Regional Dialogue

On this 28th Day of February 2014

Paradise Suites Hotel

Banjul, The Gambia