It comes as no surprise that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh would try to divert attention from his current debilitating health issues (contributing to cancellation of his meetings in URR and doctors being dispatched to his bedside), the Kartong sand mining protests resulting to a mass arrests and severe injury to one protester who is being refused medical care, etc. Besides, President Jammeh standing in public and saying Gambia is ending FGM DOES NOT MEAN THE GAMBIA GOVERNMENT IS CRIMINALIZING the act. This move also serves as a diversionary tactic President Jammeh is using to deflect attention from his regime’s horrible human rights abuses. President Jammeh has been making the news for all the wrong reasons, and as usual, this is his way of trying to bring positive news to his declining presidency.
In May 2015, GAMCOTRAP made a plea to The Gambia National Assembly to vote and ban FGM in The Gambia, but those appeals fell on deaf ears. Gambians will tell you that activities and votes by the National Assembly Members (NAMs) are influenced by President Jammeh. Thus, making such a 180 degree U-turn today makes us even more cynical.
The true champion of FGM ERADICATION in the Gambia is GAMCOTRAP, an anti-FGM (female genital mutilation) organization that has spent more than three decades fighting this harmful practice. Founded in 1984, GAMCOTRAP, under the leadership of Dr. Isatou Touray and Amie Bojang-Sissoho have worked tirelessly crusading around the country speaking to FGM practitioners and encouraging them to stop the practice. Although they have faced many instances of sometimes life-threatening resistance from villagers, GAMCOTRAP has achieved huge success in getting FGM practitioners to drop their razors and in its place help develop business opportunities to provide sustainable and alternate incomes for these former adversaries. FGM has been a deeply rooted tradition in Gambian society and it is the likes of GAMCOTRAP who are tirelessly fighting day and night to bring this practice to an end. Imam Baba Leigh, a Muslim cleric who was brutally tortured and currently in exile in USA, has also made enormous contributions in educating the Gambian public against FGM. Imam Leigh’s contribution is important because many Gambians believe FGM is sanctioned by Islamic Law. It also worth noting that a recent entrant, Jaha Dukureh has been a formidable addition to the cause.
Another concern to observers though regarding this whole saga, is the fact that Gambian asylum seekers in Europe and America will face challenges in having their cases approved due to this announcement by President Jammeh, and this may lead to many deportations which will be very tragic since the enforcement of the ban will be almost nonexistent.