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Activists defend FGM law before Assembly

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By Olimatou Coker & Fatou Bojang

A number of activist groups and personalities have continued to visit the National Assembly to present a position paper in the run up to the vote on a law seeking to unban FGM.

Jaha Dukureh, founder of Safe Hands for Girls, told the National Assembly Members that FGM has no health benefit, rather, it has been seen to contribute to harm and ill health.

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She revealed that the Women’s Amendment Bill 2024, which seeks to scrap the ban, is a significant step backward in protecting women and girls from FGM and other forms of gender-based violence. “It has also the potential to derail public interventions. As presented before this joint committee by renowned medical practitioners and medical voices, FM has no health benefit. Safe Hands for Girls joins other women-led organisations, civil society, and the international community, and calls on the National Assembly to not only ensure the law is intact but put in practical steps to fulfill girls’ potential in new Gambia,” she told NAMs.

Jainaba T Sarr, Country Director of Future in Our Hands, said female circumcision/ cutting/mutilation is merely a traditional practice. “However, empirical evidence has shown that this culture harms survivors’ well-being and the damage it causes is irreparable and the cost of reconstruction is too expensive for the state and its citizens. Furthermore, the claims for the religious foundation of FGM/C are weak and have been rejected by eminent scholars in Islam,” Madame Sarr said, quoting her organisation’s position paper.

She revealed that the practice neither contributes to religious purity nor is it an intrinsic cultural value.

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“It violates all the international human rights instruments and creates stigma and discrimination as well as leading to health complications and traumatic experiences and even deaths. Based on human rights principles, health implications, and development practice, FIOHTG supports the ban on FGM and is against revoking the ban. The religious, cultural, and utilitarian claims given by proponents of and intended by the Bill are unfounded. Since the claims of the Bill are not meritorious, we urge this Committee and the Assembly to maintain the ban,” she concluded.

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