Behaviour Change Activity within the Gambian Community in Berlin

On April 20, 2017 the first behaviour change activity within the Gambian Community in Berlin took place. CHANGE Agent Isatou Barry invited family and friends for the baby shower of her new-born child and seized this opportunity of having many people gathered together to have a discussion on children rights and the protection of children, together with activist and musician Sister Fa (Fatou Diatta). Within the frame of children rights, they placed the topic of FGM. Isatou Barry and Sister Fa answered many questions and provided further input for a lively discussion, in which also the men present participated.

The women talked about their negative experiences connected to FGM and gave clear examples, which induced great sympathy amongst the men – even amongst those who generally regarded the practice as being very important for a girl to undergo. It became clear that there is a big lack of knowledge concerning this topic. For many participants, it was complete new information that there are different forms of FGM. While under Type I „only“ the clitoris is being cut, circumcisions under Type III („infibulation“) require the narrowing and sealing of the vaginal opening, which next to serious health problems can also lead to severe complications during pregnancy and giving birth. Many men were surprised about what they learned. They were overall very grateful to receive information about the consequences of the practice for women and girls, especially because FGM is hardly ever being discussed given the fact that it is such a taboo subject.

At the end, some of the women and men emphasized that they (now) rejected the practice – some admitted they had now changed their opinion on FGM – and that they would try to spread the knowledge about the harmful aspects of this practice amongst their family members and friends.