Uphold the Ban on FGM: Women’s Rights groups say as they present a Position paper to NA

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Jaha and her team at the National Assembly on Wednesday to present their position papers on the repeal of the FGM Law.

By Fatou Dahaba 

Jaha Dukureh, founder of Safe Hands for Girls and Future in our Hands Gambia representatives, has called on the National Assembly members to maintain the ban on the contentious FGM legislation. This action aligns with the local and international protocols that Gambia has signed to safeguard and enhance the rights and welfare of women and girls.

On Wednesday, the women’s rights group presented its position papers on repealing Female Genital Mutilation to the National Assembly Joint Committee on Health, Disaster, Humanitarian Relief and Refugees, and Gender, Children and Social Welfare. The group voiced concerns about the parliament’s efforts to repeal the legislation.

The Women’s Amendment Bill, introduced by Almameh Gibba from Foni Kansala, aims to repeal the existing ban and permit ancient cultural practices for those advocating the act’s repeal.

The petitioners said, “We, at Safe Hands for Girls, join the Network Against Gender-Based Violence, TANGO, numerous women-led civil society voices, Gambian medical practitioners, survivors, young women, development partners, and global community and call on the Government of the Gambia and the National Assembly to honor the numerous global, regional protocols, conventions and agreements signed and ratified by the Gambia to uphold the ban on FGM. We fervently believe that it is imperative to reinforce the legal framework to ensure the protection of women and girls from such harmful practices.”

According to them, the Women Amendment Bill 2024 presents a crucial threat to address and mitigate gender-based violence (GBV), specifically Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), as well as the socio-economic upliftment of girls in The Gambia. 

“As a survivor-led nonprofit organization, Safe Hands for Girls (SHfG) is committed to working with government, civil society partners, and the international community in ending FGM and other forms of GBV while uplifting women out of poverty. This position paper outlines our strong stance against the bill and provides intentionally designed recommendations to ensure the holistic empowerment of young girls and women.”

Safe Hands for Girls further states that this current attempt to repeal the ban on FGM is a clear example of how, as a society, instead of uplifting their daughters and girls, they continue to expose them to bad outcomes such as FGM.

“We strongly recommend the need for government, development partners, and civil society to work together to reassess and challenge the traditional delivery structures, which failed at best and at worst reinforce power hierarchies that disadvantage girls and failed to adequately challenge the social and economic factors that continue to strengthen the exclusion of girls and young women. This collaboration should focus on the social and economic factors that exclude girls and young women, preventing them from achieving their full potential.”

Jaha Dukureh, the founder of Safe Hands for Girls, recalled her encounter during FGM.

“As someone who has lived experiences of going through this practice, or the last ten years since I’ve started speaking out against my own experiences of going through FGM. I’ve listened to people dehumanize me, I’ve listened people say that we are lying, I’ve listened to people say that they are doing this because the white people are giving them money to come tell us that our culture is bad.”

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