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NAMS WANT LAW ON FGM REPEALED

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By Omar Bah

A large number of National Assembly members yesterday expressed support to National Assembly Member for Central Baddibu Sulayman Saho who used his turn in the Matters of the Day debate to call for the repeal of the law criminalising Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
His comments came at a time when Islamic leaders led by Imam Abdoulie Fatty are at loggerheads with anti-FGM campaigners following the recent conviction of three women for FGM at Niani Bakadagi.
In his contribution, Sulayman Saco said he is concerned about the resentments surrounding the issue and that it is time to examine the legal and cultural aspects surrounding the practice.
“Decades ago, there were activists who launched campaigns against the practice with the support of nongovernmental organisations, highlighting its negative outcomes but proponents and those practicing FGM also advanced certain advantages. When President Jammeh came he made a statement in his home village Kanilai followed by an enactment of legislation by this humble Assembly criminalising the act,” he said.
Saho argued that a dialogue is needed on the matter so that the arresting of “our mothers and sisters would stop.”
“This is creating discord among those who practiced it as culture and religion. In my opinion, it should be a matter of choice. If you are of the opinion that it affects the health of women, why not support them with materials to promote hygiene and sanitation. Banning the act infringes on others’ rights and serves as a recipe for violence in our country. This country has a record of stability, and we all need to put hands-on deck to re-visit the act that criminalised female circumcision,” he said.
Meanwhile, a large number of National Assembly Members including female MPs supported Saho’s idea of repealing the law. They called for a private member bill to repeal the law.

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