Female genital mutilation coming to an end in Gambia?

By Kelly Jirsa

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. REUTERS/Andrew Burton/Pool
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. REUTERS/Andrew Burton/Pool
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh made an unexpected announcement outlawing the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) on 23 November, effective immediately.

Gambian activists however are warning the international community that unless more pressure is placed on the president, legislation will not be forthcoming.

“We do welcome the announcement, but you can’t stop FGM by just making a mere announcement. Legislation is what puts it to bed, is what ends it, we hope.”

Yusef Taylor, secretary general of Gambian Youth for Unity.

Speaking to The Guardian, Jeffrey Smith, Africa specialist at the Robert F Kennedy human rights centre, pointed out that even after the announcement 30 FGM protestors were arrested in the country. In a promising development though, anti FGM activist Jaha Dukureh has been invited by the government to join the steering committee drafting new legislation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that based on current data, 91.5 million African girls and women above 9 are living with the horror of having undergone FGM. There are potentially 3 million girls in Africa at risk of being subjected to the procedure every year.

The following map shows the prevalence of FGM in Africa of women aged between 15 and 49). Map developed by UNICEF in 2007.



According to the WHO the following countries are believed to be practising this archaic and perilous procedure:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, northern Sudan (approximately 80% of total population in survey), Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen.

For more on this topic from MiNDFOOD see:

How one woman is changing the lives of victims of female genital mutilation
30 million girls at risk of genital mutation



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