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DEPUTY SPEAKER SAYS BILL SEEKING TO REPEAL FGM LAW WILL FAIL

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By Omar Bah

As a private bill seeking to repeal the anti-FGM law is introduced at the National Assembly today, Deputy Speaker Seedy Njie has said there is a strong commitment from the majority caucus to ensure that the bill is defeated.

The bill, introduced by Almameh Gibba of Foñi Kansala, is seeking to repeal the Women’s (Amendment) Act 2015 and will be tabled today for its first reading.

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Speaking to The Standard yesterday, Mr Njie said: “We are committed to upholding the values of human rights and the health of every citizen of this country, including women and girls.”

He further argued that evidently and scientifically, FGM is considered to have caused complications, which resulted in serious health and emotional consequences to women.

“As responsible people and considering responsibility in society, we will ensure that this proposed amendment will not see the light,” he said.

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Mr Njie added that in terms of strategic national interest and protection of human rights, good governance and social and economic wellbeing of this country, “we will not retrogress in our development and I want to call on all members to remember that we have sworn to discharge our duties without fear, favour, affection, or ill will.”

“I cannot interfere with the decisions of other members, but I will personally ensure that this law will not be repealed. The majority caucus of the National Assembly is committed to the rule of  law upon which the ruling party is founded. We would want to do everything possible to sustain the law. It is our responsibility as officers of the state to preserve and maintain the good health of our women and children,” he posited.

He, however, suggested that there should be a halt to prosecution of violators until such time that a rigorous sensitisation campaign is done on the law.

However, the majority leader and National Assembly Member for Kantora, Bilay Tunkara was a bit cautious: “The issue is that I want you to allow it to sail through the first reading because I am still consulting and engaging, and by 18 March our position as the majority caucus will be known to the public. We are taking our time because it is a very sensitive area that doesn’t only have to do with religion or cultural aspect but also human rights and health issues. So, because of that, we are doing our research, but of course, we will definitely take a position, especially on a matter of importance like this.”

The Standard also contacted the minority leader and National Assembly Member for Brikama North, Alhagie S. Darboe, but he didn’t pick up his calls.

However, NRP leader Hamat Bah, UDP spokesperson Almamy Taal, and GDC admin secretary Modou Nyang, all declined to make a comment, at least for now.

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