Mar 3, 2017, 11:06 AM
The bill, tabled before deputies by the Vice President and Minister for Women’s Affairs, is entitled: An Act to amend the Women’s Act 2010 to prohibit female circumcision and for connected matters.
It states: “This Act may be cited as the Women’s (Amendment) Act, 2015. Act No 12 of 2010 referred to as the principal Act is amended as set out in this Act by inserting of section 32A, prohibiting female circumcision.
(1)A person shall not engage in female circumcision
(2)A person who engages in female circumcision commits an offence and liable on conviction -
(a)To imprisonment for a term of three years or a fine of fifty thousand dalasis or to both, and
(b) Where female circumcision causes death, to life imprisonment, in the process or after the process.
(3)Female circumcision includes:
(A)The excision of the prepuce with partial or total excision of the clitoris (clitoridectomy),
(B)The partial or total excision of the labia minora,
(C) The partial or total excision of the external genitalia (of the female minora and the labia minora), including stitching.
(D) The stitching with thorns, straw, thread or by other means in order to connect the excision of the labia and the cutting of the vagina and the introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina for the purpose of narrowing it.
(E)Symbolic practices that involve the nicking and pricking of the clitoris to release drops of blood, or
(F)Engaging in any form of female genital mutilation and/ or cutting.
4. Insertion of section 32B
The principal Act amended by inserting immediately after the new section 32A, the following new section-
32B. Accomplices to female circumcision
(1) A person who requests, incites or promotes female circumcision by providing tools or by any other means commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of three years or a fine of fifty thousand dalasis or to both.
(2) A person who knows that female circumcision is about to take place or has taken place, and fails, without good cause, to warn or inform, as the case may be, the proper authorities promptly, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of ten thousand dalasi.”
Objects and reasons
The Republic of The Gambia signed and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol). Under article 5 of the protocol, member states are under obligation to prohibit female genital mutilation and other practices that are harmful to women.
Thus the proposed amendment seeks to comply with the international obligation of The Gambia to prohibit the practice of female circumcision due to the proven harmfulness of the practice.