Hamat Bah, the leader of the National Reconciliation Party, has described as “inappropriate” the decision of President Jammeh to ban FGM in The Gambia.
Last month, the Gambian leader made a policy pronouncement at a meeting in his home village, Kanilai, banning the practice in the country citing numerous health consequences associated with it.
However, Bah said his party, the opposition party with the second largest following in the country, does not support the policy.
“Banning FGM in the country isn’t going to make it go away. This is centuries-long practice that can only be eradicated through intense nation-wide sensitisation,” he said.
“You can even teach the students at school about the negative effects of FGM. Humiliating and sending people to jail won’t change anything.”
Hamat Bah made these arguments on the weekly Civil Engagement Hour radio programme that is aired on Capital FM.
The NRP leader further likened the ban on FGM to that of skin bleaching and abuse of KoobayJaaro (local intoxicant once commonly used among Gambian youths) both of which, he argued, went ineffective.
He added that when the Government relaxed arresting people and spoke to them instead about the effect of KoobayJaaro, it disappeared.
“Most young people don’t even know about KoobayJaaro,” he said.
However, the NRP boss said he does not support FGM because “it affects the health of women”.
Bah has recently led his party to two National Assembly by-elections and won one, thus increasing his party’s seats in the law-making body to two.
After falling out with the opposition colleagues over an electoral boycott last National Assembly elections, the NRP contested winning only one seat, Niamina Dankunku.
Despite Jammeh’s policy pronouncement, a law that formerly outlaws the practice is yet to be enacted.
However, with only two National Assembly seats controlled by the NRP and three by independent candidates, any bill that gets the blessings of President Jammeh, APRC’s leader, will pass with ease.
Hamat has become the second opposition leader in the country to comment on FGM in a media interview since the ban.
Barely a month ago, Lawyer Darboe, the leader of the biggest opposition party in the country has supported the President’s policy pronouncement and urged the Government to urgently enact a law outlawing the practice.