Gambia’s iron fist dictator Yahya Jammeh has issued a public threat against religious leaders and traditional circumcisers who defy his ban on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country.
Speaking at a public rally in his birth village of Kanilai in the Western Region of the Gambia, President Jammeh warned that he took the solemn decision to ban FGM in the Gambia and that any one including religious leaders and traditional circumcisers who defy the ban will be sent to jail.
FGM is a deeply rooted traditional practice in the Gambia where for centuries now, women have been going through the practice which in some parts of the country involves cutting away part of the clitoris or, at its most brutal, all the exposed female genitalia, leaving only a small opening for urination and menstruation. Women can die from its complications; sexual intercourse and child birth can be agonising.
Local people who practice it (about 88% of the Gambia’s population), say it’s a traditional ritual used culturally to ensure virginity and to make a woman marriageable. In the past two decades, local Muslim leaders have added their weight behind traditional circumcisers calling for the practice to stay linking it to a Prophetic sanction that the practice is good.
Vigorous efforts by local campaigners and rights groups to ban the practice have been outrode by Islamist campaigns and preaching in favour of the FGM practice mainly because they have access to the local media while President Yahya Jammeh banned local rights groups to discuss anything against FGM practice on the media.
Just two months ago the National Assembly, dominated by President Jammeh’s ruling party, rejected a bill to ban FGM in the Gambia saying it was a good cultural practice that should stay. Most of the parliamentarians said during the debate that they would not risk facing the wroth of the constituents by voting in favor of the ban on FGM.
However, now the Gambian dictator has taken a 360 degree U-turn on FGM by publicly declaring that it is banned in the Gambia. Although it is still not clear what motivated the lonely dictator to finally come to his senses to ban FGM, he could only however say at his public rally that for the past two decades he has seen women and young girls die in labour complicated by genital tampering related to FGM. The clueless dictator also linked FGM to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and cervical cancer.
Because of these and what he referred to as “rising cases of fistula among women and girls who have gone through the practice,” the dictator said he was banning FGM in the Gambia. Realising that he was preaching to a crowd of unhappy people in birth village who refused to even clap for him, the dictator ranted that if those who were not happy with what he said, could as well lick their own wounds. “Let me tell you that FGM is banned in the Gambia from today and there is no going back on it,” he said.
Dictator Jammeh warned that sever punishment awaits those who from now on perform FGM on girls. “Let me warn you that if anyone circumcises a girl from today, I will not only arrest that person, but the mother of the girl whom they circumcised, the village head in whose village the act is committed and any other family member associated with the issue,” he declared.
In a thinly vale threat which left many people wondering on the actual state of his mental fitness, the dictator, who it is now confirms suffers from paroxysms and occasional seizures even in public, warned that he will seriously deal with offenders that defy his FGM ban. Repeatedly swearing on the podium by invoking the names of God, the Gambian dictator warned: “I swear I will publicly re-circumcise any religious leader or traditional circumciser who defies my FGM ban. If you think am joking, then dare me and I swear again that I will put you in a place which is even more difficult than the hottest part of hell.”
Below we produce the audio of #Jammeh’s pronouncement on FGM