Many African countries still practise Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which is deeply entwined with the cultural traditions. FGM in The Gambia for example, is prohibited by law. However, many families (especially in rural areas) continue carrying out FGM as they see it as a necessary rite of passage for a girl to become a woman. Powersis has found it difficult to combat these deeply held beliefs, but nonetheless, still has to act on many fronts.
Powersis has counselled girls and women who has gone through FGM in The Gambia, educated them about the dangers of FGM and how to defend their rights through awareness-raising activities and workshops. We pride ourselves in holding workshops for men within the rural villages, as while women are totally against FGM, they state that their husbands would never allow their daughters not to be circumsised.
Powersis is trying to establish a Health Centre in rural Gambia which will not only provide some primary health care to its communities (whom many have to travel hundreds of miles in order to receive medical care), but to also act as a safe haven for girls seeking to avoid female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage.
Our voluntary philanthropists has travelled to rural Gambia to speak to traditional leaders, and fathers, explaining to communities the harm done by cutting and the legal ramifications, including fines and imprisonment, that can result from breaking the law and forcing a girl to undergo FGM.
We also teach all involved the benefits of not cutting: better health, less birthing complications, and more opportunities regarding education and employment as girls are not cut and then rushed into marriage. Also, encouraging them that the beneficiary factor of not cutting is long term, educating families of keeping a girl in school, and the potential she has to earn an income for herself and her family if she is able to pursue a career instead of being married at a young age.