NA adopts report of Joint committee’s on Women’s Amendment Bill

Jul 9, 2024, 12:21 PM | Article By: Jankey Ceesay 

The National Assembly adopted the Health and Gender Committees’ joint report on the Women’s Amendment Bill after 35 lawmakers voted Yes and 17 No.

While laying the report before deputies, chairperson of the joint committee, Hon. Amadou Camara, who is also the Member for Nianija Constituency, stated that some of the witnesses intepreted the legality of female circumcision within Islamic guidelines, but condemned the harmful practices associated with it and advocated for a balanced approach that respects religious beliefs while safeguarding women’s well-being.

“However, many Islamic scholars consulted by the Joint Committee within and outside of the country stated that female genital mutilation/circumcision is a custom and not one of the rituals of Islam, whereas male circumcision is part of the rituals of Islam.”

“This clearly clarifies that FGM/C lacks a religious basis, supporting advocacy and educational efforts based on Islamic belief.”

“The claims of FGM/C being a Sunna (doing of the Prophet) are refuted by the lack of authenticity of the Hadith. It was also stated that the Narrations describing the Prophet (PBUH) advising a woman performing FGM/C "not to cut too much" were misinterpreted by some scholars. This absence of credible religious justification further weakens the argument for FGM/C, highlighting it as a harmful cultural practice rather than a religiously mandated one.”

The committees recommended that the Women (Amendment) Act, 2015 should be maintained to prohibit female circumcision in all forms - whether genital mutilation or cutting in The Gambia.

They also recommend that government should enforce law as well as issue clear policy directives prohibiting FGM/C and provide continued legal protections for girls and women at risk.

They further recommended that comprehensive public awareness campaigns and educational programmes should be implemented to raise awareness about the harmful effects of FGM/C and promote gender equality and women's rights.

They recommended to clearly ban any attempt to medicalise the practice of FGM/C.

Hon. Lamin Ceesay, Member for Kiang West, said the report proves evidence of insufficiency of information, “because the report fails to show data to prove complication and deaths caused by the practice.”

Almameh Gibba, Member for Foni Kansala, said: “I have seen biases; the report has not reflected the wishes and aspirations of the Gambians.”

He added: “Going through the report, the Act that we are working to repeal says female genital circumcision not female genital mutilation as the committee is emphasising on.”

“Looking at the invitees of stakeholders, we only have three main Islamic associations out of 94 stakeholders.”

He stressed that the report is not fit for purpose as it is a borrowed one.”

Hon. Gibbi Mballow of Lower Fulladu West Constituency argued that the women of The Gambia deserve better and the report is here for that betterment. “You cannot hide behind Islam and inflict pain that has a negative impact.”