Discussion Brewing: Gambian Parliament to Deliberate Decriminalization of Female Genital Mutilation

Gambian Parliament to Deliberate Decriminalization of Female

Gambian Parliament to Deliberate Decriminalization of Female Genital Mutilation

A bill seeking to overturn Gambia’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) was presented in the country’s parliament on Monday and is scheduled for deliberation later this month. The ban on FGM was implemented in 2015 under the administration of former President Yahya Jammeh, who introduced stringent penalties, including fines and jail sentences for those involved in the practice.

Introduced by lawmaker Almameh Gibba, the bill argues that the existing ban infringes on citizens’ rights to engage in their cultural and religious practices. Many Gambians associate FGM with Islamic requirements, adding a divisive element to the proposed legislation.

Public opinion on the bill is polarized, reflecting a broader societal debate. Advocates against FGM underscore the harmful physical and psychological effects inflicted upon girls and women by the practice. They argue that lifting the ban would represent a significant regression in efforts to protect the well-being of women and girls.

Female genital mutilation, recognized by health experts as having no health benefits and posing severe medical risks, is condemned by organizations such as the World Health Organization. The reintroduction of a bill seeking to revoke the ban raises concerns about potential setbacks in the fight against a practice widely criticized for its detrimental effects on the health and rights of women.

The scheduled second reading of the bill on March 18 indicates that the issue will be thoroughly examined and debated within the Gambian parliament. The outcome of these deliberations is likely to have significant implications for the country’s stance on the prohibition of FGM, reflecting the ongoing struggle between cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and the imperative to protect the rights and well-being of women and girls.


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