According to UNICEF, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in the Gambia is 76%. Terre des Femmes notes that FGM/C prevalence varies among different ethnic groups: 98% among the Serahule, 97% among the Mandinka, 87% among the Jola, 43% among the Serer and 12.5% among the Wolof, who traditionally do not practise FGM/C but have been influenced by other ethnic groups in the country. FGM/C is usually performed by a traditional practitioner, most often on girls between the age of seven and the beginning of puberty. Types I and II are the most common.
See also 28 Too Many’s country profile on Gambia.
FGM/C Country of Origin Experts for the Gambia
Prof Adriana Kaplan Marcusán
Adriana Kaplan is Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She has conducted fieldwork in Spain and West Africa since 1989 on issues concerning reproductive and sexual health, specifically female genital mutilation. Professor Kaplan is leading the “Transnational Observatory on Applied Research and Knowledge Transfer on Female Genital Mutilation” with two research stations, in The Gambia (Wassu Gambia Kafo) and Spain, developing an innovative, sustainable, evidence-based and results oriented methodology, now being replicated in Kenya and Tanzania. She has published books and articles, and has developed an academic curriculum on FGM for health sciences as well as guides for professionals on the prevention and management of FGM/C in the Gambia.
Dr Isatou Touray
Dr Isatou Touray holds a PhD in Development Studies, University of Sussex and a Master degree with a specialization on Women and Development from the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague. She has completed training on sexual and reproductive health issues and has published on traditional practises, in particular, on FGM/C, as well as on women’s rights in the Gambia. Dr Touray is Executive Director and Senior Consultant of GAMCOTRAP, a Gambian women’s rights organisation campaigning, among other things, against harmful traditional practices like FGM/C. Both in her current and in former occupations, she has researched FGM/C and advised on its elimination.
Dr Bettina Shell-Duncan
Bettina Shell-Duncan has a Ph.D. in Anthropology, and conducts research on maternal and child health in Africa. She is employed as a Professor of Anthropology and Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington, Seattle. One of her areas of specialization concerns female genital mutilation. She has been a technical consultant on FGM/C at UNICEF and the World Health Organization, and led the WHO research initiative on behaviour change with respect to FGM. She has published two books on this topic (Female “Circumcision” in Africa: Culture, Controversy and Change, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000; Transcultural Bodies: Female Genital Cutting in Global Context, Rutgers University Press, 2007) and written several academic journal articles. As UNICEF consultant, she prepared a statistical overview entitled, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Statistical Overview and Exploration of the Dynamics of Change. This report was published in 2013, and is available online.
Dr Shell-Duncan has offered expert statements regarding asylum applications for African women several times previously, including cases where applicants are seeking protection on the grounded fear that they or their daughters will be forced to undergo FGM/C. She has been studying the practice of FGM/C in the Gambia since 2003; she was the principal investigator for a World Health Organization, three years study on behaviour change in relation to FGM in Senegal and the Gambia.
Hazel is a social scientist who has worked at Coventry University since 1992, and in 2006 she became Professor of Development Geography. She is currently Executive Director Centre for Communities and Social Justice at Coventry University. She is an internationally recognised expert on FGM, and her recent research has focussed on the practice of FGM in Africa and amongst the African diaspora in the EU. Her other areas of research are the socioeconomic aspects of development, in particular gender, health and rural development in sub-Saharan Africa. She leads the EU Daphne III funded multi-disciplinary REPLACE research project. She is a specialist on participatory action methods and community-based participatory research and has published a number of refereed papers on this methodology. She has published books and chapters on health and development issues and has over 50 refereed articles to her name.
Jacqueline Knörr, Head of Research at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Extraordinary Professor at the Martin Luther University in Halle/Saale, Germany. Professor Knörr was brought up in Ghana and Germany and has for many years conducted extensive field research in Sierra Leone und the Upper Guinea Coast of West Africa more generally, as well as in Indonesia. She has worked as a Lecturer, Senior Researcher, University Professor, Scientific Director, and Political Advisor. She has served as expert witness in about two hundred asylum cases, writing expert reports concerning FGC/M and other human rights issues.
Anti-FGM/C Organisations in the Gambia
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Plot 41, Kanifing Institutional Area, The Gambia, West Africa, P.O. Box 2990 Serre Kunda