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Unicef says repealing FGM law will set dangerous precedence

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By Olimatou Coker

With the Gambia National Assembly about to vote on a bill to repeal a law banning FGM, more and more powerful voices are joining the call for the law to be maintained.

Nasifa Binte Shafique, the Unicef Country Representative, has said repealing the FGM law will set a dangerous precedent.

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Addressing a recent meeting organised by rights group Catch Them Young, Madam Shafique said The Gambia as a nation has to remember her own commitment to protect girls and women who constitute 50% of the population. “Therefore, we firmly call on the government to uphold the obligations under international and national human rights laws and maintain the ban on FGM. As Unicef and other UN agencies, particularly UNFPA, we stand in solidarity with survivors, activists, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, and all those working tirelessly to end this human rights violation,” she said.

She also appreciated the efforts of the government and CSOs on the strong multilayer advocacies and actions undertaken in the fight to end FGM in this country. “But it is not enough. We should not stop until we prevent the repeal of the law and make sure Gambia becomes FGM-free. That’s a long way to go. But we will get there for sure,” the Unicef official said.

She urged the government to enforce existing laws against child marriage and invest in programs that empower girls to promote gender equality, and provide safe spaces for dialogue.

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