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Gambian Government Eyes Lifting Ban on Female Genital Mutilation - Creating More Health Risks for Young Women and Girls

Updated: Mar 11

As the world celebrates Women's History Month, the Gambian government is discussing lifting the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) this March. Some Gambian members of parliament believe that declaring the practice illegal is an attack on cultural and religious freedom.

Former president Yahya Jammeh imposed the ban in 2015, now leaders like Imam Abdoullie Fatty defend the practice: "The Gambian constitution should take precedence over any other law or protocol. The West should stop imposing issues on us that could create instability in this country. We cannot allow them to arrest and imprison our mothers and our grandmothers because they practice their religious rights and cultural beliefs. Our position therefore is that the law must be repealed for peace to reign in The Gambia," reports Sud Quotidien from Dakar.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is clear in stating the serious health risks associated with FGM, as well as human rights defenders in the country: "The immediate consequences can be physical injury, pain, injury, bleeding which can progress to hypovolemic shock if left uncontrolled and can sometimes lead to death if one does not reach the hospital on time. Most of the time, these mutilations are not carried out in sterile conditions," said Babading Daffeh, a lawyer.

Breaking the law means heavy fines and prison sentences for perpetrators. A second reading of the bill for the decriminalization of FGM is scheduled for March 18, 2024, in the Gambian Parliament.


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