By Olimatou Coker
The National Youth Parliament an organisation that promotes good governance, democracy and the civic rights of young people, has urged government to continue its efforts to ensure the enforcement of the ban on female genital mutilation (FGM).
Recently, a tense and emotional debate about this most divisive and contentious issue came to light when a court convicted 3 women for engaging in the practice outlawed since 2015.
Islamic religious leaders led by former state house imam Aboulie Fatty went to the defense of the women and accused anti-FGM campaigners of fighting against Islam and vowing to carry the fight to the end. The campaigners said the imam is inciting violence and called for his arrest.
In a press statement yesterday, the Youth Parliament commended the authorities for the recent successful conviction of people engaged in FGM and called on all stakeholders, including religious and traditional leaders, to support the ban and work towards eliminating the ‘harmful practice.”
“As an organisation that advocates sexual and reproductive health and rights, we recognise the harmful effects of FGM on the physical and mental health of women and girls. We believe that this recent conviction will serve as a strong deterrent to those who still practice it, despite the strong efforts led by government, civil society organisations and development partners against it. We are equally concerned about religious leaders supporting the practice in our country, to the extent of paying the fine of convicts and having audio messages in circulation against the laws of The Gambia,” the statement said.
According to the Youth Parliamentarians, they will remain committed to advocating for the rights of women and girls and promoting their health and well-being. ”We will continue to work with our partners to create awareness and promote behavior change towards ending FGM in The Gambia,” the NYP concluded.