“I have lived in Bakoteh for many years and I have never heard of anyone who died as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM). All the campaigners are saying is repetition of what other people told them. For us, we are here for the articulation of the truth. Let them bring something that can convince us because we know that the pictures and the things they say do not emanate from them but from outsiders far away from The Gambia. FGM does not exist in The Gambia. What we have here is female circumcision. If you know what FGM means, you know that we do not practice that here. We do not mutilate our children. 

“The crux of the matter is, they should not portray us as practitioners of a thing that we do not practice. Given we do not have FGM here, why are they campaigning against it. If they are campaigning against FGM, let them go to places that practice it but not to us because we do not practice that here. What we have here is circumcision and that is our religion. We do not mutilate our people. FGM is part of our religion. When it comes to FGM, Islam found us practising it. Prophet Muhammad found the people of Medina practising it and Allah commanded him to follow the path of Prophet Ibrahim of which FGM is one that he advised. Prophet Muhammad also advised people how to do it in a good way hence it became part of our religious practice.”

Challenged to cite any benefits of the practice that prompted him to put up such spirited defence of it, the strident cleric, who studied in Saudi Arabia, continued:  “The prophet, Muhammad said we should practice circumcision but with moderation so that we leave a smile on her face and therein lies reward for the husband. If a woman doesn’t undergo the practice, in the majority of circumstances, they have greater sexual appetite than the husband and this can lead them to have contempt for the man if he falls short in satisfying her appetite. Or it can put on the husband a duty so onerous it could result in hardship for him. But if they are circumcised, balance can be achieved; the husband will not incur hardship and so too the wife. It also contributes to cleanliness. Circumcision makes you cleaner. But this does not mean if a woman has not undergone the practice, her prayers, fasting or pilgrimage will not be accepted. They will be accepted as long as they keep clean. It is easier for a circumcised woman to keep clean than the uncircumcised one.


“The late Dr Jack Faal, may Allah grant him mercy, said that all the negative things being said about FGM is rubbish. That it leads to bleeding is without scientific basis and evidence. He said that the blood that comes in the process is just a trickle. It is just like when a finger is wounded the blood trickles but does not lead to profuse bleeding. He said there is no cutting of muscle involved nor bones. What is done is just to cut a small bit of skin; so small and it heals fast. The allegations of anti-FGM campaigners that it causes bleeding that can lead to death has been rebutted by Dr Jack Faal. In fact, Dr Jack Faal said those who did not undergo the procedure suffer more during labour than those who underwent it”.


By Sainey Darboe