Lawmakers and Activists Divided Over The Banning of FGM/C

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Jaha Dukureh, Anti FGM Advocate

Prominent human rights activist Madi Jobarteh and anti-FGM/C activist Jaha Dukureh disagreed with the National Assembly Members who moved a motion on Monday calling for a repeal of the law that prohibits the practice of female genital mutilation/circumcision, arguing that the practice should be a matter of choice and not a criminal act.

Reacting to the motion read in parliament by Honorable Sulayman Saho and supported by other members of the parliament, Madi Jobarteh described the motion and challenged the repeal of the act as a betrayal of women and girls by the lawmakers.

Madi Jobarteh

“Today, 11th September 2023, shall go down in Gambian history as the day of betrayal of women and Girls by Members of the National Assembly who spoke in favor of or supported female circumcision in the Gambia. They have failed in their fundamental duty to create an equal and just society by identifying harmful and chauvinistic cultural beliefs and practices and abolishing them. These NAMs have demonstrated that they want to entrench injustice, inequality, and violence against women and girls in our country,” Madi argued.

Jaha Dukureh, an anti-FGM/C activist, said the National Assembly Members who spoke in favor of FGM/C should be ashamed of themselves for calling for a repeal of the law prohibiting female circumcision.

“Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. FGM is harmful and wrong. It is simple. And it is the men in our muffins again.”

She added that the anti-FGM activists will go against the parliamentarians who argued supporting the practice.

“ I assure these politicians who think this is a way of silencing us. In 2026, we will run against you lots, and this time, we are coming for your jobs,” she emphasized.

On Monday, 11th September, the National Assembly Member for Baddibu Central, Sulayman Saho, read a statement in the parliament condemning the banning of FGM and its consequences in society.

“Hon. Speaker, we need dialogue on this matter instead of arresting our mothers and sisters to be arranged before the courts. This is creating discord among us. In my opinion, it should be a matter of choice instead of Banning it because of funding received from the West. If you believe that to help the women, why not support them with materials for sanitation? Banning the act is like a recipe for discord in our society”, he said in parliament.

the National Assembly Member of Baddibu Central, Hon. Sulyaman Saho

Others supported this, including three women National Assembly Members, including the NAM for Foni Brefet, Amie Colley, who said women in her constituency said they are against banning the practice.

Last week, three women were arrested in the Central River Region for practicing female circumcision and later charged and fined. The fines were paid by a prominent Muslim cleric, Imam Abdoulie Fatty, who has constantly supported FGM and called anti-FGM activists non-believers of Islam.

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