West African Gvt. Considering Reversal On Mutilation Ban

On Monday, Gambia’s lawmakers will vote on a bill to overturn a 2015 prohibition on female genital cutting. Gambia would be the first country to lift such a restriction if this bill succeeds.

Female genital mutilation is a surgical technique that removes some or all of a woman’s external genitalia. Medical professionals sometimes do it, but traditional community practitioners often use instruments like razor blades.

Misconceptions about its ability to control a woman’s libido have led to its widespread usage in young girls, which can cause excessive bleeding or even death. This method is still widely used in some parts of Africa.

The creator of a local group against the practice, Jaha Dukureh, voiced her concern about the possibility of new legislation safeguarding women’s rights. After her sister tragically passed away from heavy bleeding, Dukureh had the operation herself.

In this Muslim-majority nation of less than 3 million people, religious conservatives have shown their support for the measure. Preserving cultural norms and values and spiritual purity is a stated goal of the book. The top Islamic group in the nation has praised the practice as an Islamic value.

Activists were caught off guard in 2015 when former Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh abruptly banned the practice without offering a public reason. The UN reports that a large percentage of Gambia’s female population, aged 15 to 49, has undergone this operation.

On Monday, a group gathered outside the Gambia parliament to voice their objections to the measure, with some brandishing banners in protest. Protective gear-wearing law enforcement officials subdued the mob.

About 30 million women worldwide have had this operation in the past eight years, according to a UNICEF report released earlier this month. While some of these cases occurred in Asia and the Middle East, the vast majority occurred in Africa.

The World Bank found that more than 80 nations have passed legislation that either allows or forbids this method.

From infancy to puberty, the treatment is performed on girls at different points in their lives. Over time, it can lead to UTIs, period problems, pain, decreased libido, and even difficulties during delivery. Depression, poor self-esteem, and PTSD are other symptoms it can exacerbate.