FGM Law: CSOs appeal to NAMs to maintain existing legislation

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Reps of CSOs at the Media briefing

By: Alieu Ceesay

Ahead of its anticipated debate on Monday, Gambian civil society organizations are intensifying their endeavors to protect the contentious FGM legislation from being repealed by members of the national assembly in Banjul.

Speaking at a news conference in Kololi on Sunday, the Civil Society Organisations on Female Genital Mutilation display Banners with the words “Join the fight to end FGM! Your Voice Matters in safeguarding women’s health and Rights’

They asserted: ‘This is not a fight against religion. It’s a fight against harmful practices that affect women and girls.’

Civil society members have urged the National Assembly of the Gambia not to repeal the bill. After its first reading, the bill is scheduled for its second reading on March 18, 2024.

Imam Baba Leigh described the renowned Islamic scholar Imam Abdullah Fatty as a ‘ bully’ who is using religion to confuse his followers on FGM.

Imam Baba Leigh

“My fellow Imams, especially Sheihk Imam Abdullah Fatty, he is a big bully. He is bullying the whole country, including the lawmakers; he trivializes them ( NAMS),” Imam Leigh said of Imam Fatty.

Anna Joof of the Female Law Association Gambia said Female Genital Mutilation and the practice of it is violent to human rights,  including the rights to health, security, and physical integrity of women and girls.

“upholding the ban on FGM/C aligns with our commitment to international law and reaffirms our dedication to advancing our human rights in the Gambia of women and girls.”

She further calls on NAMs to protect and safeguard the rights and health of women and girls in The Gambia By upholding the legislative ban on FGM in the Gambia.

Dr. Babading Daffeh, a medical Doctor, said those traditional FGM practitioners have no or little knowledge of how to practice Mutilation.

“In my medical profession, anyone who touches a person for a medical operation should have sound medical knowledge. You know what you’re cutting, and you must know the structure of your cutting; unfortunately, our Circumcisioners don’t know all these.”

Dr Daffeh recalls that victims of FGM were brought to the hospital with critical medical conditions. Sadly,  he said he once received a dead girl who was in the complication of FGM.

Other speakers include the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Emmanuel Joof, and Penda Jallow, a survivor, both called on the government to ban FGM  in the Gambia.

The practice of Female Genital Mutilation was banned in the Gambia in 2015, with penalty for anyone who practices the act will be fine.

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