Monday, July 22, 2024

National Assembly Decides to Uphold Ban on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)

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By: Alieu Jallow

The National Assembly Committee on Health and Gender, in its report, recommends upholding the ban on FGM/C as per the Women’s Act 2015. The joint committees believe that repealing the current ban is a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of women.

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Presenting the report before the parliament, Amadou Camara, NAM for Nianija and co-chair of the joint committee, outlined the findings of the committees. After thorough consultations, they learned that Female Genital Mutilation is not Islamic but a custom/traditional belief:

“FGM is rooted in cultural traditions rather than religious teachings. Islamic scholars have clarified that it is not a requirement of Islam, helping to debunk the myth that it has religious significance. This understanding can aid in changing community attitudes towards the practice,” he stated.

The National Assembly member for Nianija highlighted that FGM is more of a humanitarian issue than a national issue. He termed the practice as primarily a violation of human rights, impacting the health and well-being of women and girls. Addressing it requires a focus on its humanitarian aspects rather than just national legalities, thus calling for global attention and coordinated human rights efforts.

With many arguing and anchoring the practice in Islam, the joint committees’ study tour in Egypt gave them an opportunity to gather firsthand information from Islamic scholars. By extension, they also learned from Saudi Arabia, where the practice is not performed.

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“FGM is not a common practice in Saudi Arabia, resulting in limited information on the subject. This indicates that FGM is not universally tied to Islamic practice. It underscores the cultural rather than religious basis of FGM.”

Following all the lessons learned, the Joint Committee, having considered and scrutinized the bill and heard various experts and opinions, hereby recommends the following:

  1. Protect Women’s Health and Well-being: Repealing the ban on FGM/C would expose women and girls to severe health risks and violate their right to physical and mental well-being.
  2. Legislation and Policy: The government should enforce the law as well as issue clear policy directives prohibiting FGM/C and provide continued legal protections for girls and women at risk.

The joint committee believes that The Gambia is committed to national, regional, and international conventions, such as CEDAW, CRC, and the Maputo Protocol, reflecting its dedication to eliminating discrimination and promoting gender equality.

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