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Gambian Parliament Begins Discussing Bill to Decriminalise Genital Mutilation

A bill seeking to repeal Gambia’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) was presented in teh country’s parliament on Monday, March 4th. This bill is planned to be discussed by lawmakers later this month. 

FGM is a procedure whereby a womans genitals are deliberately cut or injured. It is important to note that there is no medical reason or justification for this treatment - it is a cultural practice. 

Available data shows that FGM is largely concentrated in a “swath of countries” in the Atlantic coast to the Horn of Africa, to areas of the Middle East. It is mostly practised in western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, and in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, including Indonesia, Iraq, and Yemen. 

The former president of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, banned the practice during his term, in 2015. He introduced large fines and jail sentences for his perpetrators. 

The reintroduction of this law is because many Gambians believe that FGM is a requirement of Islam and Gambian culture. 

The bill, which was introduced by lawmaker Almameh Gibba, argues that the current ban on FGM is a violation of citizens’ right to practice their traditions, religion, and culture. 

There has been anti-FGM outcry at this notion, witih advocates pointing to the mass harmful effects - both physical and psychological - that girls will face. 

The second reading of the bill is scheduled for later this month, March 18th. 

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