Thursday, July 25, 2024

Former VP Renews Commitment in FGM Fight, Urges NAMs to Vote Against Proposed Repeal Bill

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By: Dawda Baldeh

Former Gambian Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray, who also serves as the Executive Director of the GAMCOTRAP Anti-FGM organization, has called on National Assembly Members (NAMs) to vote against a proposed bill seeking to repeal the 2015 Women’s (Amendment) Act, which criminalizes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

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In an interview with The Fatu Network, Dr. Touray emphasized that FGM is a harmful practice that has no basis in the Quran.

“FGM is a harmful practice that is claiming the lives of many women and girls. It is painful and is not religious, as claimed by many,” she told The Fatu Network.

Dr. Touray, who has personal experience with FGM, stated that she does not want her daughters to face the consequences of this practice.

She criticized those who claim that FGM is a religious or cultural requirement, asserting that they are misleading people. She argued that practicing FGM violates a child’s rights.

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“I underwent FGM, and that’s why I have not allowed three of my daughters to go through it,” she added. “We cannot sit idly by and allow this harmful practice to continue.”

Expressing her disappointment with the proposed bill, Dr. Touray called on all NAMs to vote against it, stating that it contradicts their campaign to protect women and girls.

“It is disappointing to see a NAM proposing a bill seeking to repeal the ban. It’s their right, but I urge all NAMs to unanimously vote against it,” she added.

She warned that any NAM who supports the bill should be voted out in the next election.

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Dr. Touray commended former President Yahya Jammeh and President Barrow for their support in banning FGM and vowed to continue fighting against the practice.

“We will continue to fight against FGM and raise awareness about it so that people will know the truth…,” she noted.

Dr. Touray highlighted the progress made in the fight against FGM, with more women speaking out against the practice due to increased awareness and sensitization.

She stressed that FGM has no health or religious benefits.

“Many people are hiding behind Islam to mislead others about this practice. I have read the Quran and Hadith, but there is no mention of FGM being Islamic.”

However, she expressed disappointment with some women in parliament who are supporting the bill to repeal the ban, singling out Tuma Njie as an exception.

The law criminalizing FGM in The Gambia was enacted by former President Yahya Jammeh in 2015, with an amendment to the Women’s Act passed into law in December of that year.

Various rights groups have been advocating for the implementation of the law and the prosecution of those found practicing FGM.

Despite being in existence for nearly eight years, only three people have been convicted of practicing FGM as of August 2023.

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