Media practitioners sensitised on HTPs

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Following the recommendations of the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices, The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP) last Saturday held a one-day workshop centred on the theme:

Harmful Traditional Practices (HTPs) and Women’s Right and the Role of the Media. The media sensitization workshop, which was held at the President’s International Awards hall in Bakau, aims to map current trends and challenges in education campaigns on the elimination of HTPs, as well as identifying priority areas for constructive and persuasive communication strategies. It brought together 26 participants from different media houses.

In a wide-ranging presentation, Amie Bojang-Sissoho, GAMCOTRAP Programme Coordinator, emphasized the prevailing context in The Gambia, which was characterized by varied traditional practices. ‘‘These cultures are influenced by social, economic and political factors in any given society. Different forms of communication are used in the mediation of such cultures and practices ranging from traditional media to modern media ’’ she noted.

Dilating on the topic, she indicated that, it has been noted that the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) though considered sensitive for public discussion, the taboo of silence has been broken through different channels of communications.

Taking into consideration the opportunities that the media can provide in terms of advocating through news reports so as to promote changes in personal behaviour, she underscored advances that media practitioners can make in public policy. ‘‘The publication of outreach activities through the media also influence the policy makers and institutions as well as the level of awareness on changes occurring in the communities,’’ she added.

For her part, Dr Isatou Touray described ways and means media practitioners can use to participate in the campaign for the eradication of FGM. In their ability to pursue media advocacy, she outlined the need for journalists to make an epistemological move by using the formula ‘‘Female Mutilation’’ instead of ‘‘Female Cutting’’.

At a minimum, she called on journalists to watch for opportunities to respond to emerging stories with a well-prepared message about FGM by doing deep researches.

Being totally in her element, Dr Isatou Touray seized the opportunity to draw the attention of participants on the urgent necessity to address issues with responsibility.

In other words, media personnel should bear in mind that there is a moral obligation to put issues relating to HTPs at the center stage of human development. The establishment of a Network of Media Professionals on HTPs will certainly help to deepen the sensitization campaign.

Author: by Abdoulie John