Monday, June 17, 2024

Foni Kansala NAM Likens Anti-FGM Advocate to Western Conspiracy against Religion & Culture

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By: Dawda Baldeh

Following the introduction of a highly contentious bill aimed at repealing the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) before lawmakers in Banjul, Honorable Almame Gibba, the National Assembly Member for Foni Kansala, has likened anti-FGM advocates to conspirators from the West targeting religion and culture.

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In an interview with The Fatu Network, Gibba stated that the objective of the bill is to address discrimination and foster unity and stability in the country. He argued that what is practiced in The Gambia is not FGM but rather female circumcision.

Gibba referred to anti-FGM advocates as opportunists influenced by Western ideologies, aiming to undermine people’s religious and cultural practices. He emphasized that the bill seeks to repeal the ban on female circumcision, not FGM.

The lawmaker from Foni Kansala emphasized that preventing people from exercising their rights is absurd, especially when everyone claims to be an advocate for rights. He contested the notion that the practice constitutes mutilation, asserting instead that it is circumcision. He framed opposition to the practice as a Western conspiracy against Gambian religion and culture.

Gibba criticized anti-FGM activists for allowing themselves to be swayed by Western influences and money. He expressed disappointment with Gambian activists whom he labeled as “pocket activists,” suggesting that they are motivated by financial gain rather than genuine concern for their cause.

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He stressed that those who wish to practice female circumcision should be free to do so without interference. Gibba recalled that the term “Female Genitalia Mutilation” only gained prominence in the 1990s to 2000s, suggesting it as a fear-inducing label imposed by the West.

Gibba argued that the term FGM is a Western construct designed to sow discord among people. He speculated that additional letters might be added to the term in the future. He reiterated that female circumcision is a religious practice dating back to the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

The lawmaker recounted an anecdote about Prophet Muhammad encountering a woman performing female circumcision and offering guidance on the procedure. He emphasized that this practice has been part of Gambian culture for generations.

Gibba emphasized that the repeal bill aims to decriminalize the practice and ensure it remains a personal choice. He criticized existing laws for imposing jail terms and heavy fines on practitioners, deeming them draconian and incompatible with democratic values.

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He highlighted instances of arrests and prosecutions related to female circumcision in 2023, arguing that such laws breed instability and religious tensions. Despite facing criticism, Gibba maintained that female circumcision has undeniable benefits and repealing the ban would promote unity and protect practitioners’ rights.

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