The state owned Gambia Radio and Television (GRTS) yesterday featured President Yahya Jammeh’s announcement of a ban on female genital mutilation (FGM). According to GRTS, the President made this announcement at Kanilai while on his presidential tour.
President Jammeh said that the days when women and girls undergo FGM are over and as from now on FGM would be banned forever. He indicated that the ban is meant to safeguard the rights of women and girls and to protect them from serious infections. He cited effects of FGM such as cervical cancer and women dying in labour. He said FGM is now history.
He pointed out that his 21 years research has made him to conclude that FGM is traditionally inspired and there is nothing in the Qur’an professing FGM.
The proclamation made by the President during his tour that Female Genital Mutilation /female circumcision is banned should not be confused with legislation or a proclamation published in the Gazette in furtherance of Section 6 of the Women’s Act which reads:
“(1) Every woman shall be protected against any form of physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, suffering, or violence whether occurring in public or private life.
“(2) Any form of violence against women is hereby prohibited
(3) All Government Departments, agencies, organs, public or private institutions shall take appropriate measures to promote and protect women’s right and their legal status from any form of abuse or violence by any person, enterprise, organisation or institution.”
As far as Foroyaa is concerned Section 21 of the Constitution has already outlawed all harmful traditional practices. It states:
“No person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment.”
We have always wondered why cases have not been filed at the High court to combat any given harmful traditional practice.
As far as religion is concerned both those who perform the practice and those who do not are expected to be equally rewarded if they meet the conditions required by the pillars of their faith.
Hence what determines what is should be based on the assessment of the impact of the practice on the human body.