Gambian parliament to discuss bill to decriminalise female genital mutilation

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

BANJUL (Reuters) - A bill seeking to repeal Gambia's ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) was presented in the West African country's parliament on Monday and will be discussed by lawmakers later this month.

Former president Yahya Jammeh banned the practice in 2015 and introduced steep fines and jail sentences for perpetrators.

However, many Gambians still believe that FGM is a requirement of Islam and the bill -- introduced by lawmaker Almameh Gibba -- argues that the current ban violates citizens' rights to practice their culture and religion.

The bill has divided public opinion. Anti-FGM advocates point to the harmful physical and psychological effects of the practice on girls and women and say a lifting of the ban would be a huge step back.

The practice has no health benefits and can lead to a host of serious medical problems, according to the World Health Organization.

The second reading of the bill is scheduled for March 18.

(Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Portia Crowe and Christina Fincher)