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NHRC URGES ASSEMBLY TO KEEP FGM LAW

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By Omar Bah

The National Human Rights Commission has warned the National Assembly that repealing the law against female genital mutilation would give the country the notoriety of being the first country in the world to do such an act and make it unfriendly to women and girls.

Currently, a bill seeking to repeal the law has progressed in the Assembly where it is waiting to be voted after consultations with the public.

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In its position paper on the issue sent to the National Assembly Select Committee on Gender, the NHRC said repealing the law could portray The Gambia as a country that has little regard for the life and health of its women and girls who form more than half of its population.

“It will also seriously soil the name of the country as a bastion for human rights as well as tarnish its good governance standing in the world,” the Commission warned.

The NHRC also said repealing the law would “not only undermine the framework for the protection of women and girls but also potentially rollback other child protection measures, especially the possible repeal of the Children’s (Amendment) Act 2016 that prohibits child marriage and child betrothal.”

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“These key legal provisions, if removed from the statute books of The Gambia, would greatly undermine the limited legal protection framework enacted for the protection of women and girls,” it noted.

The Commission argued that FGM violates the human rights of women and girls, in particular the fundamental rights to life, health, development and bodily integrity, and amounts to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

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