Nyang-Sanneh Institute, 79 other Prominent Gambians petition President Barrow & NA over Repealing FGM Law 

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Professor Abdoulaye Saine, Executive Director of the Nyang- Sanneh Institute

Amid intensifying debates over the repeal of the contentious FGM law, the Ngang-Sanneh Institute, together with 79 notable Gambians comprising medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, rights activists, and journalists, have submitted a petition to President Adama Barrow and the National Assembly’s clerk regarding plans to annul the current FGM legislation.

In a petition letter seen by TAT, the group expresses their dismay at the Parliament’s efforts to repeal the law, which they believe infringes upon the rights of women and girls in the nation.

Among the notable petitioners are the two former vice presidents of Dr. Isatou Touray, Aja Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, former Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo, anti-FGM advocates Jaha Dukureh and Fatou Baldeh, former TRRC Executive Secretary Dr. Baba Galleh Jallow, prominent human rights defender Madi Jobarteh, urologist Prof. James Ndow, former Gambia Bar Association President Salieu Taal, Prof. Amina Sillah of the United States, renowned women’s rights activist Fatou Jagne Senghore, and former TRRC Vice Chairwoman Ms. Adelaide Sosseh, among others.

“We, the undersigned, believe that safeguarding the rights and protecting the health and safety of women and girls is one of the most important functions of government.

We therefore support maintaining the Women’s Act of December 28, 2015, which makes provisions for banning Female Genital Mutilation. We believe that repealing or amending such an Act will be a bad decision by the National Assembly, that will reverse the many years of social progress Gambian women and girls have enjoyed since the passing of the Act,” the group said in thier letter to Barrow and National Assembly. 

“We believe that the religious arguments being made for repealing the Act are not supported by sound references to the Bible or the Quran or in sound Hadith. The respected late Grand Mufti of Al Azhar University (the highest seat of Islamic learning), Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, argued against FGM; so did a recent Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, and that it has no sound basis in the Quran and the Sunnah/Hadith. Both the Bible and the Quran prescribe circumcision only for men but not for women. For those who make references to a weak Hadith, we argue that none of the Prophet Mohammad’s wives nor his daughters practiced FGM. If Muslim women are to look for an example consistent with their faith, then those are the best examples. We should also note that Islam operated in a pagan milieu, and so archaic practices in those early days, such as FGM/C, had to be gradually abolished.” 

“Therefore, recognizing that FGM has no sound basis in the teachings of the major faiths existing in The Gambia; that it is harmful to women’s health and safety; (The practice has no health benefits for girls and women and causes severe bleeding and problems during urination, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths. Also, the long-term consequences of FGM/C are the formation of abscesses and genital ulcers, chronic reproductive tract infections, chronic back and pelvic pain, and urinary tract infections). FGM/C is an archaic social practice overall. We, the undersigned, petition our people’s representatives, the National Assembly, and President Barrow to exercise one of their most sacred duties with responsibility and care to ensure that the FGM/C ban is maintained. 

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.

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