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City of Banjul
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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The FGM bill

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It is expected that the members of the National Assembly will have the first reading of bill seeking to lift the ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) today. This emotive issue is a hot topic in the country as so many people seem to think that the ban should remain and others wish it to be removed.

Women groups and those organizations that fight for the rights and protection of women and girls are of the view that the ban should not be lifted as according to them, it is harmful. They believe that many young women suffer a lot of trauma as a result of undergoing FGM.

However, there are those who firmly believe that FGM is not only cultural but a religious rite as well. For them, maintaining the ban goes against both our cultural and religious heritage. They argue the saying that FGM is more harmful is mere fear mongering to make people do away with their culture and religion.

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In fact, some people go to the extent of saying that it is a conspiracy to fight against Islam and therefore no weight should be given to those who are advocating against FGM. Various debates have been held in this regard with some of them becoming somewhat acrimonious.

Whatever the case, citizens have voted for their representatives to look out for what is best for them. It is hoped that the National Assembly Members will give due diligence to their responsibilities and weigh the matter properly and come out with what is best for the country. This is why they were voted for, to look out for their people.

If the people’s representatives see that the majority of their people want FGM banned, then let them vote for that. Those who see that most of their people wish to continue practicing FGM then let them vote for that. That is democracy. Be it flawed or not, what the majority of the electorate want, becomes law.

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The National Assembly Members are therefore called upon to follow their conscience and vote for what is best for the country. Debaters, in and outside Parliament, are however urged to be careful with the type of language used as this is talking about mothers, sisters, wives and so on.

It is necessary to remember that this is a topic which discusses mothers, i.e. women, and therefore caution must be taken at all times. The language must always be civil and measured. 

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