Stop Now!

After several hours of discussion, lawmakers in Gambia on March 18, 2024 suspended the debate on the lifting of a ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Of the 47 members of the Gambia National Assembly present, 42 voted to send a bill to overturn the ban onward to a committee for consideration before a final vote. Four lawmakers voted against advancing the bill and one abstained. Only five of Gambia’s 58 lawmakers are women, meaning men are spearheading a discussion on a practice that is forced on young girls. The decision has not only raised fears, but attracted the attention of human rights experts, lawyers, women’s and girls’ rights campaigners. To them, overturning the ban would undo decades of work to end female genital cutting, a centuries-old ritual tied up in ideas of sexual purity, obedience and control.
In 2015, Gambia banned the practice but did not enforce the ban until last year, when three practitioners were given hefty fines. The fines triggered an unprecedented campaign from an influential imam who has taken up the cause and has been leading calls to repeal the ban, claiming that cutting is a religious obligation and important culturally. To counter the move, anti-cutting campaigners gathered outside Parliament in Banjul, Gambia’s capital, on Monday morning, but police set up barricades and prevented many from getting inside the Parliament. Most experts are of the opinion that, repealing...

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