Gambia Debates Repeal of Female Genital Mutilation Ban

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In a significant development, the Gambian parliament received a bill on Monday aimed at repealing the country’s ban on female genital mutilation (FGM).

The proposed legislation, to be deliberated by lawmakers later this month, challenges the 2015 prohibition imposed by former president Yahya Jammeh, which included severe penalties for offenders.

Advocated by lawmaker Almameh Gibba, the bill argues that the existing ban infringes upon citizens’ rights to practice their cultural and religious traditions, as many Gambians still perceive FGM as a religious obligation within Islam.

This legislative initiative has sparked a divisive discourse among the public. Supporters of the bill contend that lifting the ban aligns with the preservation of cultural and religious practices, while opponents, particularly anti-FGM advocates, emphasize the severe physical and psychological consequences inflicted upon girls and women by the practice.

Critics argue that revoking the ban would represent a substantial regression in the fight against a harmful tradition.

The World Health Organization underscores that FGM lacks any health benefits and can lead to serious medical complications.

The upcoming legislative proceedings hold significant weight, as the bill faces its second reading on March 18.

The outcome will not only impact the stance on FGM in Gambia but also reflects the delicate balance between cultural traditions, human rights, and public health in the West African nation.

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