Gambia Government Votes To Lift Ban On Female Genital Mutilation

Gambia Government Votes To Lift Ban On Female Genital Mutilation

The bill will now be sent to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny before a third reading, a process that is expected to take three months.

ANIUpdated: Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 05:56 PM IST
article-image
File

The Gambian parliament on Monday voted to lift a ban on female circumcision or Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which involves the partial or complete removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons, Al Jazeera reported.

According to the Al Jazeera report, this move could make Gambia the first country in the world to reverse legal protections against the practice for millions of women and girls.

Gambia Govt to Advance Controversial Bill Repealing Female Genital Mutilation Ban

Politicians in the West African nation's parliament voted 42 to four to advance the controversial bill, which would repeal a landmark 2015 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) that made the practice punishable by up to three years in prison.

Almameh Gibba, the legislator who introduced the bill, argued that the ban violated citizens' rights to "practice their culture and religion" in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. "The bill seeks to uphold religious loyalty and safeguard cultural norms and values," he said.

Proposed Legislation Setback For Human Rights & Child Welfare

But activists and rights organisations said the proposed legislation reverses years of progress and risks damaging the country's human rights record.
Jaha Marie Dukureh, of Safe Hands for Girls, an NGO seeking to end FGM said that the practice was "child abuse". She, herself, underwent the practice and watched her sister bleed to death following the procedure, Al Jazeera reported.

"The people who applaud FGM in this country, a lot of them are men. These are men who don't have the same lived experiences that we do, and women who have been through this practice continue to tell them every single day what their suffering is, what their pain is," she said.

Divisive Debate Over Repealing Ban Imposed By Former President Yahya Jammeh

The debate over repealing the ban, imposed by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years before being toppled in 2016, has divided the nation.

The debate flared up in August, when three women were fined for carrying out FGM on eight infant girls, becoming the first people convicted under the law.

The bill will now be sent to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny before a third reading, a process that is expected to take three months. The committee can make amendments to the measure.

UNICEF Definition & Health Risks Of Female Genital Mutilation In Gambia

UNICEF, the UN agency for children, defines FGM as "the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons."

Seventy-six per cent of Gambian females aged between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM, according to a 2021 report by UNICEF, Al Jazeera reported.

It can lead to serious health problems, including infections, bleeding, infertility and complications in childbirth, and impair sexual pleasure.
"Girls' bodies are their own. FGM robs them of autonomy over their bodies and causes irreversible harm," said the UN's The Gambia office on X ahead of the debate. 

RECENT STORIES

UK Passes Controversial Law To Send Asylum Seekers To Rwanda

UK Passes Controversial Law To Send Asylum Seekers To Rwanda

Dubai Airport Operations Back To Normal After Experiencing Heaviest Rainfall In Past 75 Years

Dubai Airport Operations Back To Normal After Experiencing Heaviest Rainfall In Past 75 Years

India, Turkmenistan Among Asian Countries Hit By Heatwave In 2023, Says UN Report

India, Turkmenistan Among Asian Countries Hit By Heatwave In 2023, Says UN Report

Earthquake Alert! Massive 6.1 Magnitude Quake Jolts Taiwan A Day After 5 Tremors Hit Hualien County;...

Earthquake Alert! Massive 6.1 Magnitude Quake Jolts Taiwan A Day After 5 Tremors Hit Hualien County;...

Artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s Seeing Forest Represents Singapore At 60th Venice Biennale

Artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s Seeing Forest Represents Singapore At 60th Venice Biennale