Gambia Lawmakers Criminalise FGM

Dr-Isatou-Njie-Saidy-Vice-President-of-The-GambiaGambian parliamentarians criminalise the practice of female circumcision otherwise called female genital mutilation (FGM) after passing a bill that imposes three year prison term on anyone that flouts the Women’s Amendment Act 2015. It also levies a fine of $1,300 on anyone caught practising or involved in the organisation of female genital cutting.

The bill now awaits President Jammeh to append his signature on it.

The late Monday night ban, packaged into the Criminal Code, was supported by a large majority of the ruling APRC lawmakers. The Vice-President Isatou Njie Saidy introduced the bill, telling deputies the new law would “enforce the constitutional rights of women and girls not to be subjected to practices that are harmful to their health and well-being.”

The parliamentary ban followed President Jammeh’s impromptu executive order last month. He described the practice as “outdated and unIslamic” and threatened religious and traditional leaders for challenging his edit.

The deputy Speaker Fatou Mbye was thrilled about the act, describing it as “one of the most progressive pieces of legislation enacted by the Parliament. But the Majority Leader’s tone conveys a totally different tone. Fabakary Tombong wishes there was enough time allocated to sensitise Gambians on the deep rooted practice, which according to its defenders, should be preserved for so many reasons. Campaigners say its disadvantages far outweighs advantages.

One lawmaker who voted against the ban was the Minority Leader Samba Jallow. Hon. Jallow believes the government should have sufficiently consulted the public before rushing to table a bill in parliament.

It is not clear whether the ban will be a cosmetic one as it happens in the case of skin bleaching. Through a presidential decree, then military junta Chairman Jammeh banned skin bleaching for posing threats to women’s health. Skin bleaching in the country is more rampant today than at anytime in The Gambia’s history.



  1. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    BEST NEWS FROM GAMBIA FOR A LONG TIME. “Enforce the constitutional rights of women and girls not to be subjected to practices that are harmful to their health and well-being … one of the most progressive pieces of legislation enacted by the Parliament”.

    This is different from SKIN BLEACHING DECREE. That was not a law – and anyway a law is NOT needed there because it is adults choosing to harm themselves. This is a law to protect children – which the majority of African countries including Senegal are adopting. Lawyer Darboe too supports it, so it is here to stay. Amen.

  2. It is indeed a good move to have a law against FGM because it is not done in a civilized and progressive society. Senegal and other countries have legislated against FGM and it is indeed evil practice. Now compensation of women or girls should be next move. Legal actions should be taken against the state for its failure to protect citizens from this harmful and evil practice.

    Jammeh has done this for his personal and political interest. Clearly tortoise Vice President will slowly leap at night to National Assembly to pass the bill. Jammeh is the law of the land. This is rare law he ever passed in a very long time. I hope he stop raping young girls now because there will be too many uncircumcised Virgins who he cannot all rape. Jammeh is running out of uncircumcised Virgin girls which his idiols have instructed him to rape hence this ban of FGM coming into effect.

  3. Any effort utilised to get rid of the practice (what ever it is called) is a move in the right direction. Gamcotrap are nearly at the end phase of the sensitization and will continue the dialogue with the people.
    Our women health should not be a cue-ball of politics. Mr. Darboe has seen it that way and kudos to him for that wise reaction to the move.
    Beyond that, I think that this legislation is the nail in the coffin of the dubious co-habitation between SIC elements and the regime- an alliance that is an obstacle to oust this regime. I remember an interview in which Imam Touray accuse Lawyer Darboe of being an enemy of islam. Imam fatty fulfilled the same role for the regime, by targeting the predominantly mandinka audiences. It is schadenfreude -albeit belatedly, for all those who were the victims of the “tonque” of these so called “reverent” scholars.
    So my advice to the opposition: avoid the topic and leave the old defenders-of-islam alliance to pull daggers on each other and settle their scores. For they have a back-breaking work to do in convincing their audience of the new found epiphany!

    • Luntango Suun Gann Gi

      Cruel Kinteh talks of “schadenfreude” (enjoying the loser’s agony) and “epiphany” (seeing the light at last).

      I prefer magnanimity from the rightly victorious and the job of those wonderful Gamcotrap Ladies is now to sensitise gently about the law that all must obey – essentially to protect the girl-child’s health.

      I feel good for The Gambia today – because this issue caused so much pain and even unnecessary deaths of the innocents that many chose to ignore. I am happy – but not “schadenfreudic”.

      Happy 2016 All – and may it be the beginning of a year in which no Gambian girl-child will scream in unbearable pain and suffering.

  4. Luckily i live in the west. I also support Jammeh for life. But this one i totally and wholeheartedly disagree. If i were in the gambia, i would have never accepted this rule. No way. I will not allow the west to destroy my cultural, social and religious fabrics. Very soon they will tell us black is a sin. And everyone will start bleaching their damn skin. I think it already started.

    Female circumcision could be addressed differently. Why is it that whatever black people do is evil and barbaric.

    Now even marrying two wives, they made it difficult. And we know there are lots of benefits to that. At some point in history, these west people made us believe that slavery was appropriate. Please can we stop listening to the west and do things our way.

    Sorry for my ranting but black people at some point have to believe in ourselves.


    • ” I also support Jammeh for life. ”

      Thus have you shown that you are undeserving of the citizenship of a Sovereign Republic…You are only fit to live as a subject and property of a sovereign ruler…

      The Gambia is a Sovereign Republic and all her worthy children should owe life long loyalty to her and her alone…and not anyone else, regardless of their position…

  5. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    Malang, I agree about Marcus Garvey. His poster is on my classroom wall from a VIDEO of 1994. But, his “Up U Mighty Race” could also mean “Leave Backward Customs Behind”. Cutting little girls has no benefit whatsoever, other than stunting their physical, emotional and intellectual growth. And of course there is the danger of the health risks.

    Happy New Year.
    (PS: No matter how bright your Burning Spear, it is no match for Putin’s Nuke. And Putin has respect from the West TODAY because his grandfathers said: “Holy Mojo … Please let us copy America and make that Hiroshima Bomb. Ditto China.)

  6. So, anyone who knows about female circumcission and does not report it, is as well liable to a fine of D10,000. Funny clause. Isn’t it?

    Where now is the legal jurisdiction and limitations on liability.

    I wish it was the same with other more serious crimes like rape, murder, bigamy, infanticide, child dumping etc. I am sure all these affect the life and health of the girl child. Don’t they?

    By the way, why not a law to ban male circumcission as well. I am sure they are both done in the same unhygiene and unsanitary conditions which have the same medical challenges.

    It is common knowledge in criminal jurisprudence that any law that cannot be effectively enforced is a bad law.

    What is next?? Ban on polygamy??

    By the way, what about the implant of almost 5 billion dalasi so called National Debt Service bill in the 2016 budget? That’s almost 30% of the total budget. They called it oversight. Which one is more of a national problem???

    • Luntango Suun Gann Gi

      Gambia asks:
      “So, anyone who knows about female circumcission and does not report it, is as well liable…”

      Gambia, in UK here if I as a teacher suspect child abuse and do not report it, I am under the new law liable. Do I agree with the law? Yes. Reporting “Extremism” has been added to that liability and this is more contentious. The other day a 16 year old Kurdish boy spoke to me about his grandfather in Sulaymaniya and how he wants to go to Iraq to join the Pershmega and fight ISIS. I was required to discuss this with my line-manager and I did – the police knew about him already. UK faces terrorist attacks and that is the one priority.

      Gambia asks:
      “What is next?? Ban on polygamy??”.

      No, not in The Gambia, a 95% Muslim country. The Koran CLEARLY allows polygamy – whereas the supporters of FGM can find no support for that in the Koran AT ALL. One could also argue that polygamy is preferable to a 4-way cheating relationship – but that is a debate for another day.

      Gambia asks:
      “why not a law to ban male circumcission as well?”

      Very simple. Male circumcision has HEALTH BENEFITS (Not to mention aesthetic value when done well – hold it now, before you say anything, I heard this from GIRLFRIENDS lots of times as a young man – lol!).

      SERIOUSLY, google “Why are grown men circumcising?” – and the answer will come up that non-retention of germs underneath the foreskin meant that circumcised men were LESS LIKELY to trap germs (such as HIV) and pass it around – that is a SCIENTIFIC FACT. I wrote many years ago about these fact – WHICH IS STILL IGNORED IN THE WEST BECAUSE THEY LARGELY DON’T PRACTICE MALE CIRCUMCISION.

      In Kenya, the most DEVASTATING AIDS EPIDEMIC was among the LUO people – who 100% don’t circumcise, male or female. By contrast, the KIKUYU, who traditionally circumcise had a lower case of Aids than the LUO – but the Muslims on the Swahili Coast had the lowest case of AIDs.

      In addition to circumcising like the Kikuyu, the Muslims do not by and large drink alcohol. Alcohol makes drunks indulge in unsafe sex – and we have an EPIDEMIC of alcohol-fueled sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at the moment here in UK. The Kikuyu are seriously drunkards – they can challenge the Scottish for the Olympic Gold Medal! I once sat next to ex-President Kibaki and he could not remember stories I was telling him about what he used to say to us when we were kids at school; even mention of his old LSE did not elicit much of a response – the photo shows two pints of beer infront of him!!). Some suggest Kibaki was such an ineffective President, inspite of his education and intellect, because of the alcohol. By the way, Winston Churchill was a drunk too – and that is why the British reject him after the war.

      Sorry, I am on holiday, so my writing tends to be too long!!!

      Happy 2016.

  7. Gambia, the only thing that makes sense in your posting is the 5 billion dalasis national debit services bill in 2016 budget which indicate corruption and mismanagement. The rest of your points about FGM, male circumcision and others, I think Dida gave you better explanation. Please go and educate yourself about Islam and try to seek knowledge. This legislation is the right thing for the country. For far too long our women and girls are under oppression and exploitation, I think this is the first time ever Gambia government has taken step to address the issues affecting our women folks. In few years to come, men taking advantage of women is going to be less and women are gradually going to be empowered. Jammeh is an evil idiot and I think this time around his bipolar has made him to do good thing for the country. Don’t be obsessed with Arab culture of FGM. Remember, slavery was at some point in human history a good practice and now it has been outlawed by all civilized human beings, so FGM is under the same category. This is why the holy Quran talk about releasing and better treatment of slaves so as to eradicate its practice. If slavery wasn’t outlawed, jammeh and many of his ministers would have been slaves working on various farms across the country. Go and read history and understand your religion. God created all men and women equal unless you want to tell he is unfair. Using Islam as a pretext to marry four wives who you cannot care for their needs, but to just to satisfy your sexual needs is not going to be effective strategy in 10 years to come. Most Gambian men marry four wives because of this reason but not what God said in his glorious holy Quran.

  8. Luntango- it’s indeed gratifying to witness the crumbling of an alliance, that has immensely stifled the progressive changes our country badly need. Dr. Touray will definitely sing you songs of her tribulations with SIC elements with the tacit support of the regime. Imam fatty was a carefully created persona to specifically tarnish the image of mandinka politicians in the eyes of the predominantly mandinka listeners. Now that the scuffle with Imam/Sheriff Hydara brought to bear the limitations of SIC influence on that target group, imam fatty and co. immediately became a spent force.
    Since then, that group which is rather easily influenced by Quran & sword welding types, have long switched allegiance.
    The good day for gambia, on this particular issue , was the day Gamcotrap was created and won the engagement of the dedicated Dr. Touray as its director. She has said in many occasions that she is in this for the long haul and not a political opportunist. The aforementioned legislation, if any, is the the logical furtherance of concerted efforts already spearheaded by grassroot volunteers.
    For those in the field know that the mere legislation will not eradicate the practice. We can even doubt the impartial application of the law. If political expediency arises, this law could be abrogated again by the rubber stamp parliament. In today’s gambia, there is no such thing as entrench clause. Just as the secular state is under attack, this legislation can also fall prey to political opportunism.

    • Luntango Suun Gann Gi

      Kinteh: “Dr. Touray will definitely sing you songs of her tribulations with SIC elements..”

      The good Dr. has all my writings on the matter, Kinteh, and my much publicised condemnation of that Spanish NGO. I had questions for Imam Halifa too on that Spanish NGO matter – but let bygones be bygones.

      Kinteh: ” … this law could be abrogated again by the rubber stamp parliament …”

      I don’t think so Kinteh – the horse has bolted so to speak. It will be like the Afrikaners trying to re-established Apartheid. Impossible. As Maxs says above: “slavery was at some point in human history a good practice and now it has been outlawed by all civilized human beings” – except ISIS!

      The Dust Bin of History is where FGM belongs.

      (Kinteh, I will email this story and all the comments to Dr Touray).

    • I do believe that Female Circumcision has outlived its “usefulness” ( if it had any), but I am NOT convinced that an outright ban is the right way to go about it..

      I hesitate to give any credence to Yaya Jammeh and his bunch of sycophants, for their sudden resolve to work towards the eradication of female circumcision from our society…

      I doubt their sincerity, having used state machinery to oppose any public campaign against the practice for almost two decades and actually persecuting those who were combating the practice at GAMCOTRAP…

      And I most certainly refuse to fall for their professed new found “love” and “respect” for human rights and resolve to protect the girl child…

      Whatever the reasons for this 360° u-turn by the regime (and I suspect external pressures), it has got nothing to do with respect for the rights of women or anyone, for that matter..

      Everyday, parents, who are breadwinners and protectors of their families, are whisked away into incommunicado detention, leaving their vulnerable children, including girls, without their parents and providers for very long periods..This will not abate and hence, their claims of protection and respect are hollow and meaningless…

      We can eradicate the practice without criminalising people…Many traditional practices have disappeared without a single law been passed or a single person been jailed…

      I remember women ( used to have their gums blackened with some kind of black powder, through a painful exercise, using sharp (sewing) needles, but that practice is long dead..

      We need a serious government, with serious people in it, that will use national resources prudently to address urgent issues (such as senssibly combating harmful practices), rather than waste it on pointless celebrations..(up to 200 Million Dalasis spent on celebrations)

  9. In as much as I do not engage in useless debates about religion especially with people who only choose to accept what favours them and leave what don’t, I think it is of high importance here to give you dida and Max this Qur’anic reference if you so choose to accept them.

    Qur’an sura 2 verse 124: Allah says: ” when Ibrahim’s Lord tried him with some commandments, he fulfilled them…. “.

    These commandments are ten as according to all translations of this verse from the day it was revealed to date as including circumcission for himself and his family. You can verify this by looking it up in Ibn Khatir or any other translation of you choice. True Muslims fear their Lord in everything especially with saying things that Allah says or does not say. It is wise to say you do not know and limit your argument on science and the like. Will any of you deny this verse even when it is clarified to you??

    Gamcotrap in all their years of campaign, were never denying this fact. The point had always been: It is not compulsory but a sunnah instead. Therefore, it could be stopped if it causes harm. Their point is fair and I or no religious scholar had issues with that.

    My advise to you therefore is, please if you believe in Islam, learn it from its source. That would save you one day. It is not about winning a debate but it’s about what Allah will judge you on the day of judgment.

    Secondly, maybe both of you need a little enlightenment about female circumcission for I know neither of you come from areas where it is practiced. This is not a matter that is men violating women right as insinuated by Max. Female circumcission, like male, is purely a woman’s business and no men not even the imams have anything to do with it. That is again why the campaigners were only concentrating on their fellow women.

    Dida compared its liability to antiterrorism law in UK. Are you serious? That you are comparing female circumcission to laws on combating terror?? I am sure that is not what you mean to say.

    Bax is fair, like Amat Bah says, criminalising this does not solve anything. It is only cosmetic and I believe our lawmakers should focus more on other important things such as putting an end to the endless disappearances, the loss of countless lives of our youths in the wide seas and deserts, Yahya throwing biscuits to our kids while his convoy runs into them killing and permanently disabling them and the list goes on.

    Who are they trying to please here??


  10. Before criminalising female circumcission, why not prostitution? I think and believe that the later is more harmful than circumcission. Unless the so-called activists want to say otherwise.

  11. Luntango Suun Gann Gi

    Gambia said: “In as much as I do not engage in useless debates about religion …”

    Luntango says: “We are discussing a Girl-Child HEALTH ISSUE!”

    Gambia says: “Bax is fair”

    Luntango says: “Don’t count on my in-law Bax YET! He is waiting for a long essay on the subject before he takes a position!”

    HAPPY 2016 ALL!

  12. Gambia , please don’t mix apples and oranges here . Prostitution is not the same as FGM . For far too long , our women folks have lived under oppressive forces of men . Why do you think in The Gambia , even a poorest man marry two to four wives if their goal is not sexual satisfaction ? This has been cultural accepted . There are scientific and medical reasons why FGM is bad for women . It has human rights dimension , social and cultural factors which all do not help the women folks . Remember , this is most brutal torture women bear for the rest of their lives . It is the same as Jammeh’s torture of innocent citizens . Was slavery not part of our ugly history? Have an open mind then you will understand .
    As for Bax , I think he is inconsistent though he is at some point against FGM but now am not sure what he is up to . My friend you got to have a position . The fact of the matter is FGM is only practice and prevalent in backward society . Gambia is extremely backward in every aspect , example, we are economically , intellectually , democratically , developmentally , religiously and even sexually backward ( because we continuously oppress our women’s rights including rights to sexual satisfaction ). We need to work harder to get half of what Senegal achieved .

  13. My take is, female circumcision, otherwise FGM, as been practiced, have established human heath implications, documented by health researches, into ways of improving to advance healthy human lives…..

    As humans, we should always aspire, to improve & better services, for healthy innovations to advancement of human life & quality…

    However it’s untrue, with any notion of suggestive too, that, it’s always harmful to all persons, wherever it’s been practiced, world over…

    But due to establishment of harmful health implications for humans, it’s time to legislate to modify how it used to be practiced, thence the Legislation; but also objectively permit the practice, with health guidelines set up in the legislated Clauses; in observance of majority of population whose religion permitted it….???

    I think the ministry of health should take charge; amongst others, the age of consent guidelines for girl child or woman to be circumcised should be set at minimum age of adulthood attainment for the girl child; to decide on her own accord, if she wants to be circumcised or not; there should be forms of consent to be signed by the person to be circumcised; with all possible health implications to be stated on the form, read by, & or translated in language understood by the person for circumcision….

    All should be left for the individual to decide what she wants to do with her body; rather than little girls being rushed through unregulated surgery, with possible harmful health implications for the individual….

    I know for fact, a lady who hails from where it isn’t generally practiced, confirmed of her opting & got herself circumcised at adult age, to curtail her own urge or desire; which she takes positive as she now feels lot better with herself than before….

    This just exposed the hypocrisy of the Murderous kanilai yaya Idolatrous DEVIL, who will cling at ANY straw in drawing, when there’s no water in swamp? the kanilai alligator now in drying pond?? the Murderous armed Syndola Toni dafataba Banditry habitual manifestations of hypocrisy…???

    If Murderous DEVIL yaya is not to be ibliz-Lucifer Almunafiq, but real & indeed truthful to the Islamic claims, to Muslims in Gambia & other places, there aren’t any need for imposing proclamations, without being moderate when & where necessary & possible…

  14. Bajaw you have said it all. You see, humans need to be sincere. It is explicitly evident that 99% of the women circumcissed in our country only benefit from it.

    If they are sincere, why won’t they improve on the minor side effects or the unhealthy practices in the procedures etc like they are doing with the body piercing phenomenon in the west, skin bleaching etc But no, because ours is Islamic or African.

    They are turning a blind eye the incomparable level of chastity in women from where it is practiced to others, even in our tiny Gambia. Not to talk of their healthiness, happiness, long life amongst others.

    Why don’t they try to research and study its relationship with the prevention and control of various gynecology problems and cancers in women such as colon cancer etc. But no. Above all people who come from no cultures and do not learn about any other are jumping up n down and saying this is backward.

    I am sure Dida and Max now did their little research to know that contrary to their ignorant and arrogant believe, circumcission, for both men and women is in fact Islamic and not just primitive black tradition.

    What they and all the so called advocates should have done, was to find out how it was being done in all the centuries ago without any issues even when there was no hospitals around and why it is only seen to be a harm just in the last few decades.

    Dida should know that the Gambia is not like Ethiopia or east Africa where the entire female genetalia is stitched. No our people don’t do that. All they do is just as proscribed by our beloved prophet, cut a little part of the clitoris and leave the rest in tact. That is why, in over the thousand years of it’s practice, they never needed the hospitals for labour. Why don’t you attempt to find out the correlation in that too.

  15. Gambia , you are indeed very primitive in your thinking. So you are telling us Gambian women don’t need hospital for labour because of FGM , first of all , are you aware of poor accessible health care situation in The Gambia for century ? Don’t you know that every year thousand of women died as a result of child birth resulting from complications of FGM . Maternal and infant mortality of The Gambia is highest in the world . Gambia ranked among the poorest countries in the world in every aspects . Do you know how many unnecessary and preventable deaths happen in The Gambia each year? You really need to be educated . There has been extensive research done on FGM and its correlation on various diseases affecting women. There are a lot of factors that cause low incident of cancers in The Gambia and this has no correlation with FGM .
    Let me tell you that every human being has a culture , so your assumption that People from no cultures are jumping to describe FGM as backward Is false and misinformation . Culture is simply a way of life of people’s in different environment . This is why we have diverse culture . Please read about FGM . There are different types of FGM being practice in The Gambia by different tribes and you erroneously mentioned that Gambians follow what your so called prophet prescribed . How can Gambian women knows exactly what the prophet prescribed ? Try to present honest views . What evidence do you have about the exact prescription of the prophet apart from hearsay , is there any measurable quantity been given as to actual process of cutting in FGM ?
    FGM is a cultural oppressional tool designed centuries ago to control women . This grand design was meant to curtail their basic freedom so that men would be in control . You have to respect women and realize that they are not objects but human beings with feelings . The only benefits of FGM is to control women . The example highlighted by Bajaw was as a result of cultural frustration and insults that woman has gone through which was why she did FGM . She felt good about it because majority are doing it which is different from the real harmful effects of FGM . Let’s us be open minded and learn beyond our perceived cultural zone . We do have some practices in our culture which are great but FGM is not one of them .

  16. Nfamara Saidykhan

    Well, I wouldn’t want to indulge you too much but I will practice it and if that means going to jail, so be it. Allah suffice for me and all those practising it.

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