Gambia: Delay on female genital cutting ban repeal

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Lawmakers in Gambia have deferred a decision on the attempted repeal of the 2015 ban on female genital cutting, referring the legislation for further committee discussions.

Gambian activists have expressed concerns that overturning the ban would undermine efforts to protect girls and women from the harmful practice, which is often performed on girls younger than 5. The procedure, also known as female genital mutilation, involves the partial or full removal of external genitalia and can lead to severe health complications. Activists fear that repealing the ban on female genital cutting could signal a regression in women’s rights in Gambia.

Jaha Dukureh, founder of Safe Hands for Girls, emphasized the potential consequences beyond this specific issue, warning that it could pave the way for challenges to other laws safeguarding women’s rights, such as those addressing child marriage and domestic violence. The United Nations estimates that more than half of women and girls aged 15 to 49 in Gambia have undergone the procedure.The bill seeking to repeal the ban is supported by religious conservatives, who argue that it upholds religious purity and cultural norms. However, critics argue that it would undermine progress made in recent years and perpetuate harmful practices.

Source: AP News

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