19 July 2024
Female genital mutilation: Gambia's ban at risk

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The Threat of Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia

Female genital mutilation (FGM) has been a contentious issue in The Gambia, with a recent proposal to reverse the ban on FGM raising concerns about eroding women’s rights. The potential changes in legislation could allow for medicalized female genital cutting and consent for adults, sparking a global outcry against the regression in gender equality.

The Gambia’s Progressive Legal Reforms

Under the leadership of former president Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia made significant strides in advancing gender equality through legal reforms. The ban on FGM in 2015 was a landmark decision that criminalized the harmful practice, signaling a commitment to protecting the rights of women and girls. Additionally, Jammeh enacted laws such as the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offenses Act to combat various forms of violence against women and children, further strengthening the legal framework for gender equality in the country.

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The Interplay of Culture, Religion, and Gender Equality

Despite these progressive reforms, The Gambia continues to grapple with deeply ingrained cultural norms and religious beliefs that perpetuate FGM. The practice, which is prevalent among a majority of Gambian women, is often driven by traditional beliefs and performed by traditional healers. The association of FGM with controlling women’s sexuality underscores the complex interplay between cultural traditions and the fight for gender equality in the country.

Global Backlash Against Women’s Rights

The resurgence of efforts to reverse the ban on FGM in The Gambia is reflective of a broader global trend that seeks to undermine women’s rights and gender equality. From attempts to restrict women’s bodily autonomy to increasing violence against women and LGBTQI+ communities, this trend poses a significant threat to the progress made in advancing gender equality worldwide. The erosion of women’s rights is not limited to The Gambia but is part of a larger political climate that seeks to roll back democratic achievements and exacerbate gender inequalities.

Sustaining Gender Equality Reforms

The case of The Gambia highlights the importance of sustaining gender equality reforms beyond their initial implementation. While legal changes may be a crucial first step in advancing women’s rights, ongoing efforts are needed to ensure that these reforms are protected from regressive forces. Western donors and multilateral institutions play a vital role in supporting countries like The Gambia in maintaining their commitment to gender equality and women’s rights in the face of opposition.

The potential reversal of the ban on FGM in The Gambia is a stark reminder of the challenges that persist in the fight for gender equality. As the country grapples with cultural norms, religious influences, and global trends that threaten women’s rights, it is crucial for stakeholders to continue advocating for the protection of women and girls from harmful practices like FGM. The international community must stand united in condemning any attempts to undermine the progress made in advancing gender equality and reaffirming the rights of women worldwide.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.hrw.org 2. www.amnesty.org 3. www.unicef.org

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Female genital mutilation (FGM), Gender equality in The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh (politician)

Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation (FGM) (also known as female genital cutting, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and female circumcision) is the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the vulva. The practice is found in some countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within their respective diasporas. As...
Read more: Female genital mutilation

Gender equality
Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.UNICEF defined gender equality as...
Read more: Gender equality

Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh (born 25 May 1965) is a Gambian politician and former military officer, who served as President of the Gambia from 1996 to 2017, as well as Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council from 1994 to 1996. Jammeh was born in Kanilai, in the...
Read more: Yahya Jammeh

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