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Students urge National Assembly to keep anti-FGM law

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By Fatou Saho

As rights groups worry about the imminent threat to the Women’s Act that outlaws FGM, Catch Them Young, an advocacy group has joined Unicef to stage a community dialogue on the matter. The dialogue featured students from various schools in the Kanifing Municipality who urged their National Assembly Members not to repeal the law on 18 March when the matter will be voted on in the Assembly.

Fatou Kanteh, a member of the Children’s Parliament, said so many women who survived FGM have spoken of the pain and complications they encounter as a result of the practice.

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“So, I will urge our representatives not to repeal it because if they do, it means they are not protecting our rights”, Kanteh urged.

Mariama Kenda Bah, a student from Charles Jaw, said she did not experience FGM “but I don’t want the law protecting girls from FGM to be removed because we need to be protected from this practice. School girls like myself and all other girls have dreams   and careers to pursue and we don’t want to be victims”.

Fatoumatta Baldeh, a student from Bakoteh, said: “I am a victim and was circumcised when I was eight years old. My mum had told me we were going to a naming ceremony but that turned out to be circumcision. I cried and suffered; the whole day I could not ease myself. It caused me so much pain that I had to ask my mum what that was; again, she told me if I wasn’t circumcised in the future my husband would say I am not a virgin. Let the law stay”. 

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Another student, Shiekh Tijan Touray, a boy also from Bakoteh Senior, advised Assembly Members to be speaking in local languages when treating such matters in the Assembly.

He added: “Let the ban on FGM remain. Anything affecting our human rights should be kicked out”.

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