Gambian Mobilization Against Legislation Reinstating Female Genital Mutilation

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A demonstration unfolded outside the National Assembly in Banjul. For the second time this month, on Monday, March 18th, lawmakers deliberated on a bill aimed at reauthorizing female genital mutilation (FGM).

From early morning, approximately a hundred demonstrators, including survivors of FGM, gathered outside the National Assembly, brandishing banners and placards bearing a unified message: “Do Not Repeal the Law Against Female Genital Mutilation!”

This Monday marked the second review of the proposed legislation by Alamameh Gibba, the independent lawmaker who introduced the bill. Gibba justified the reintroduction of FGM by arguing that its prohibition “violates citizens’ rights to practice their culture and religion.” The bill was not slated for voting on Monday; instead, it must undergo scrutiny by a parliamentary committee before potentially returning for further debate in the Assembly.

However, for Anna Njie, President of the Gambian Women Lawyers Association, the mere existence of this legislation is a setback for women’s empowerment.

“I am truly disappointed because we have worked tirelessly to promote women’s and girls’ rights. Gambia was once aligned with international law and treaties. Now, the fight is to definitively quash this bill, not merely delay its passage for committee review. The experts on this committee could potentially weaken or entirely remove the FGM prohibition. The prospect of amending the law criminalizing FGM is significant,” she warns.

According to UNICEF’s data from last year, 73% of Gambian women aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM. This figure represents a two-point decrease from 2015, the year when FGM was outlawed in Gambia.


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