President Jammeh has signed into law a bill that placed a ban on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia, a source from the country’s National Assembly informed Torchongambia.
The assented bill will have to be published in the national Gazette before it can become law, a process which is expected shortly.
The bill criminalizing FGM was presented before lawmakers by the country’s vice president, Isatou Njie Saidy in December, barely a month after Jammeh declared FGM as “outdated” and “detrimental” to the health of women”.
The new law has placed a fine of D50, 000 or three-year jail term or both for people caught practicing FGM or involved it its organization.
It also stated that life sentence might be applicable in cases where the practice is proven to have caused death and as well placed a $10, 000 fine for any accomplice in the crime.
The FGM prevalence rate in The Gambia among women age 15 to 49 is at 75%, majority of which involved cutting and removal of the flesh, according the country’s demographic health survey released last year.
However, Dr Isatou Touray, the founder of the Gambia Committee on Harmful Traditional Practices, said the passed anti-FGM bill has made an immediate impact based on the EU sponsored survey they have just recently done with Gambia Women’s Bureau.
Touray said the survey which is expected to be published shortly revealed that majority of the people who have responded to the research questionnaire are aware of the law.
“A survey conducted on violence against women just recently after the law was passed shows that the law has received support from majority of the people we have interviewed…,” she said.
“100% of people we interviewed said they are aware of the FGM law and most of them said they will not circumcise their girl child. The law has though come too little too late but it has become a game-changer.”
The Gamcotrap has been involved in the fight against FGM in The Gambia for the past 30 years and Dr Touray said they were able to convince 158 circumcisers to drop the knife in recent years.
With the exception of one opposition party, President Jammeh’s decision to ban FGM in the country has received praised from all his political opponents.
Meanwhile, our source has also confirmed that the President has also assented to the controversial law school bill which the National Assembly passed late December, last year.