MEET A DEFENDER: DR ISATOU TOURAY
Dr. Isatou Touray, co-founder and executive director of Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices (GAMCOTRAP), is committed to 'knife-dropping', or ending the brutal custom of FGM in her country.
In alliance with other activists, she established GAMCOTRAP in 1984 to to protect the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and children in The Gambia against such practices as FGM, early and forced marriage, and violence against women.
These successes have come at a price for Dr Touray
, who has long been targeted for her
had to resign from her
position as Deputy Director General of The Management Development Institute
, where she
had established a gender and development unit, after receiving repeated warnings from authorities about her
gender equality advocacy.
has twice been accused on false charges, both of which were eventually dropped.
The second of these times she
was imprisoned and only released after paying an exorbitant bail of 36,000 euros.
Women Human Rights Defenders, such as Dr Touray
, are perceived as particularly challenging to the status quo, and are systematically targeted in order to discredit and silence them.
Several WHRDs have been imprisoned, and President Jammeh has stated that he
can not personally guarantee the safety of anti-FGM activists.
Despite these threats, Dr Touray
vital work, fighting for women's health and human rights in a society that decrees most women second-class citizens.
has been recognised with a number of awards, including 2008 'Gambian of the Year', the 2008 US Ambassadorial Prize for 'International Woman of Courage', and the 2011 FAMEDEV Gender Award.